Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was studied in cryosections from human thyroid tissues. Normal tissue (4 cases), nodular goitre (12), toxic goitre (9), adenoma (9), follicular carcinoma (1), papillary carcinoma (7) and poorly differentiated carcinoma (1) were used for immunohistochemistry. Northern blot analysis was performed in two nodular goitres, three adenomas, two papillary carcinomas, one follicular carcinoma and the adjacent normal tissue in five cases as well as in two cell lines from anaplastic carcinomas. Epidermal growth factor receptor immunoreactivity was detected in all tissues examined. The amount of EGFR mRNA did not differ between normal and abnormal tissues. However, the EGFR staining was weaker in normal thyroid tissue compared to the adjacent neoplastic areas suggesting an upregulation at the posttranslational level in the latter. A strong staining was also seen in hyperfunctioning thyroid glands. The EGFR location was mainly basal or basolateral in all thyroid tissues with normal histology and in toxic diffuse goitre. Pericellular and sometimes cytoplasmatic staining was seen in neoplastic tissues. In nodular goitre the staining was both basal, lateral and apical and varied in intensity. Our data suggest that a non-polarized location of EGFR probably indicates a loss of the normal epithelial cell polarity and could be interpreted as an early sign of dedifferentiation. Furthermore, a role for the EGFR is proposed, not only in the development of thyroid neoplasias but also in goitre formation.
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