Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Aims : Galectin-3 is a β-galactoside binding protein, recently recognized as a promising molecular marker of thyroid malignancy. As reported in several studies, galectin-3 is highly expressed in papillary thyroid carcinoma, but its expression has not been investigated in papillary microcarcinoma, which is a variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma.Methods and results : Using a monoclonal antibody to galectin-3 and the avidin–biotin–peroxidase complex (ABC) immunohistochemical technique, we analysed galectin-3 expression in 63 cases of papillary microcarcinoma. The results showed immunohistochemical reactivity for galectin-3 in 51 (80.9%) cases. Intensity of staining varied from strong or moderate to weak. Galectin-3 localization was mostly cytoplasmic, but also membranous or nuclear in some cells. Immunohistochemical expression of galectin-3 was not found in 12 (19.1%) cases. Most galectin-3 negative microcarcinomas (10/12) were of the non-classical type, i.e. without papillary architecture. Neither the frequency nor the intensity of a positive reaction was related to tumour size.Conclusions : Galectin-3 gene is expressed at the protein level in most papillary microcarcinomas, although with slightly lower frequency than that reported for clinically evident papillary thyroid carcinoma. The presence of galectin-3 in clinically silent microcarcinomas may indicate that galectin-3 is not related to growth or aggressiveness of papillary thyroid microcarcinomas but rather plays some other role in thyroid tumour biology.
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