Aims: To describe two new cases of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid with exuberant nodular fasciitis-like stroma, one of which was characterized by previously unreported transformation into a poorly differentiated lesion. Moreover, we explore the presence of TGF-beta to help to clarify the pathogenesis of the collagen formation.
Methods and results: The case characterized by an aggressive behaviour exhibited areas of transformation into a poorly differentiated (insular) carcinoma of the thyroid. In both cases, as revealed by immunohistochemistry, neoplastic cells produced and secreted high amounts of TGF-beta. On the contrary, TGF-beta immunoreaction was never present in the normal thyroid or in papillary carcinomas without collagen bundles, while a weak, exclusively intracellular reaction was present in a patchy manner in cases showing intratumoral fibrous bundles.
Conclusions: The rare variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma characterized by exuberant stroma may give rise to more aggressive lesions, as do other histotypes of differentiated thyroid carcinomas. TGF-beta, the fundamental cytokine which mediates scarring and activation of myofibroblasts, most probably induces the exuberant stroma.