Underexpression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ in PAX8/PPARγ-negative thyroid tumours

A. R. Marques, C. Espadinha, M. J. Frias, L. Roque, A. L. Catarino, L. G. Sobrinho, V. Leite

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The expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ in thyroid neoplasias and in normal thyroid (NT) tissues has not been fully investigated. The objectives of the present work were: to study and compare the relative expression of PPARγ in normal, benign and malignant thyroid tissues and to correlate PPARγ immunostaining with clinical/pathological features of patients with thyroid cancer. We analysed the expression of PPARγ in several types of thyroid tissues by reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), interphase fluorescent in situ hybridisation, real-time RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. We have demonstrated that NT tissues express PPARy both at mRNA and at protein level. PAX8-PPARγ fusion gene expression was found in 25% (six of 24) of follicular thyroid carcinomas (FTCs) and in 17% (six of 36) of follicular thyroid adenomas, but in none of the 10 normal tissues, 28 nodular hyperplasias, 38 papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs) and II poorly differentiated thyroid carcinomas (PDTCs). By real-time RT-PCR, we observed that tumours negative for the PAX8-PPARγ rearrangement expressed lower levels of PPARy mRNA than the NT. Overexpression of PPARγ transcripts was detected in 80% (four of five) of translocation-positive tumours. Diffuse nuclear staining was significantly (P < 0.05) less prevalent in FTCs (53%; 18 of 34), PTCs (49%; 19 of 39) and PDTCs (0%; zero of 13) than in normal tissue (77%; 36 of 47). Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptory-negative FTCs were more likely to be locally invasive, to persist after surgery, to metastasise and to have poorly differentiated areas. Papillary thyroid carcinomas with a predominantly follicular pattern were more often PPARy negative than classic PTCs (80% vs 28%; P = 0.01). Our results demonstrated that PPARγ is underexpressed in translocation-negative thyroid tumours of follicular origin and that a further reduction of PPARγ expression is associated with dedifferentiation at later stages of tumour development and progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-738
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2004


  • Follicular thyroid tumours
  • PAX8
  • PPARγ
  • Underexpression


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