Identification of multiple clinical and pathologic prognostic factors in differentiated thyroid cancer has permitted some degree of risk stratification. However, these clinical indices fail to distinguish potential intrinsic differences in tumor virulence. The nm23 gene has been identified as a potential metastasis suppressor gene that is homologous to nucleoside diphosphate kinases. Studies in human breast cancer have shown a significant inverse correlation between nm23 levels and nodal involvement/tumor recurrence. Given the possible clinical utility of a marker of metastatic potential in the management of thyroid carcinoma, we examined 34 thyroid neoplasms and a human medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) cell line (TT) for nm23 expression. Normalized nm23 expression was assessed by Northern analysis of tumor RNA. nm23 Expression (tumor expression/TT cell expression, mean ±SE) was 1.14 ±0.15* in MTCs (n =5), 0.70 ±0.10* in follicular cancers (n=6), 0.51 ±0.11 in papillary cancers (n=19), and 0.31 ±0.03 in follicular adenomas (n=4) (*p< 0.05 when compared to adenomas). Within histologicgroups, we found no correlation between nm23 expression and nodal involvement or distant métastases. Our results indicate that thyroid neoplasms of different histologies express varying levels of the nm23 transcript. Although nm23 expression seems diminished in metastatic breast cancer, it appears not to be the case in metastatic thyroid cancer. The nm23 gene may therefore have different roles in the evolution and metastases of different neoplasms.
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