Immunohistochemical analysis of sodium iodide symporter expression in metastatic differentiated thyroid cancer: Correlation with radioiodine uptake

M. Regina Castro, Elizabeth R. Bergert, John R. Goellner, Ian D. Hay, John C. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The ability of thyroid cancers to concentrate radioiodine (RAI) is dependent, in part, upon the expression and functional integrity of the sodium iodide symporter (NIS). However, some differentiated thyroid carcinomas (DTCs) and most undifferentiated thyroid carcinomas lack the ability to concentrate iodide and are thereby insensitive to 131I therapy. Variation of NIS protein expression may be an important factor in this behavior. We wished to determine whether NIS protein expression in primary DTC tumors correlated with the subsequent RAI uptake by metastatic lesions in the same patients. We obtained paraffin-embedded tissue specimens from 60 patients with metastatic thyroid cancer who had undergone total or near-total thyroidectomy at the Mayo Clinic for DTC and had known presence or absence of RAI uptake in their tumor deposits determined by total body scanning after thyroid hormone withdrawal. Tissue sections from the primary intrathyroidal tumors were subjected to immunostaining (IS) using a monoclonal antibody against human NIS. Slides were subsequently examined for specific IS by two independent reviewers. For each patient, whole body scan (WBS) uptake was recorded, and correlation between results of IS and WBS was analyzed. Of 43 patients with a positive WBS, 37 also had positive IS of their tumors. In six patients with negative IS, a positive WBS was documented, and in three of these cases TSH at the time of surgery was less than 0.3 mIU/liter. Of the 17 patients with negative WBS, 10 were also negative on IS. Positive IS accurately predicted a positive scan in our study in 84% of cases; the ability of the IS to detect all cases with a positive scan was 86%, and it increased to 90% when patients who were receiving thyroid hormone therapy at the time of surgery were excluded from the analysis. Overall, the results of our retrospective study suggest that NIS IS of the thyroidal primary tumor in patients with papillary and follicular thyroid cancers has substantial ability to predict the behavior of subsequent deposits of metastatic and recurrent cancer with respect to iodine trapping and concentration. Our findings require confirmation in prospective studies to more accurately determine the predictive ability of the test and its role in the postoperative management of patients with DTC. If confirmed, NIS IS of DTC primary lesions may prove useful in the management of patients with known or suspected metastatic thyroid cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5627-5632
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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