Galectin-3 expression in hyalinizing trabecular tumors of the thyroid gland

Robyn L. Gaffney, J. Aidan Carney, Thomas J. Sebo, Lori A. Erickson, Marco Volante, Mauro Papotti, Ricardo V. Lloyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Galectin-3, a beta-galactoside-binding lectin, is overexpressed in many neoplasms and may be useful when differentiating between benign and malignant thyroid neoplasms. Recently, interest has focused on the classification and biologic behavior of hyalinizing trabecular tumors (HTTs). In this study we compared galectin-3 expression in a number of different thyroid neoplasms to gain insight into the biologic behavior of HTT. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues from 153 thyroid neoplasms were stained with a monoclonal antibody to galectin-3. These tumors included 58 HTTs, 60 papillary carcinomas, 21 follicular carcinomas, and 14 follicular adenomas. Reactivity was graded as negative, weak, or strong by three observers. The average patient age was similar in the patients with HTTs, papillary carcinomas, and follicular adenomas. The patients with follicular carcinomas were approximately a decade older than all other groups of patients. All groups of thyroid neoplasms occurred more frequently in female patients. Follow-up revealed metastatic disease in patients with papillary (36.6%) and follicular carcinomas (19%) but not in patients with follicular adenomas or HTTs. Galectin-3 immunostaining showed that 60% of the HTTs were negative or had weak (H) (1+) staining and 40% had strong (2-3+) staining. In the majority of the reactive cases, staining was diffuse and predominantly cytoplasmic. Fifty of the 60 (83%) papillary carcinomas and 11 of the 21 (52%) follicular carcinomas showed strong immunostaining. The immunostaining was also diffuse in the majority of papillary and follicular carcinomas. The strong immunoreactivity seen in most of the carcinomas was in contrast to the relatively weak or negative immunostaining in the majority of follicular adenomas (93%). The immunophenotype of HTT, as characterized by galectin-3 expression, is intermediate between that of benign and malignant thyroid tumors, suggesting that some tumors with strong staining may behave like carcinomas, although this was not noted in our cases. Our study suggests that the variable pattern of galectin-3 expression may reflect a difference in biologic behavior between HTT and papillary thyroid carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-498
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Galectin-3
  • Hyalinizing trabecular tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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