Aim: Acromegaly reportedly carries an increased risk of malignant and benign thyroid tumors, with a prevalence of thyroid cancer of around 3-7%. Germline mutations in the aryl-hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) interacting protein (AIP) have been identified in familial forms of acromegaly. The molecular and endocrine relationships between follicular thyroid growth and GH-secreting pituitary adenoma have yet to be fully established. Our aim was to study the prevalence of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) in acromegaly, focusing on the role of genetic events responsible for the onset of thyroid cancer. Methods: Germline mutations in the AIP gene were assessed in all patients; BRAF and H-N-K RAS status was analyzed by direct sequencing in thyroid specimens, while immunohistochemistry was used to analyze the protein expression of AIP and AHR. A set of PTCs unrelated to acromegaly was also studied. Results: 12 DTCs (10 papillary and 2 follicular carcinomas) were identified in a cohort of 113 acromegalic patients. No differences in GH/IGF-1 levels or disease activity emerged between patients with and without DTC, but the former were older and more often female. BRAF V600E was found in 70% of the papillary thyroid cancers; there were no RAS mutations. AIP protein expression was similar in neoplastic and normal cells, while AHR protein was expressed more in PTCs carrying BRAF mutations than in normal tissue, irrespective of acromegaly status. Conclusions: The prevalence of DTC in acromegaly is around 11% and endocrinologists should bear this in mind, especially when examining elderly female patients with uninodular goiter. The DTC risk does not seem to correlate with GH/IGF-1 levels, while it may be associated with BRAF mutations and AHR over-expression. Genetic or epigenetic events probably play a part in promoting thyroid carcinoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)