Objective: Nonfunctioning thyroid nodules (NFTNs) display a diminished iodide-concentrating ability, owing to defective expression and cell membrane targeting of the sodium-iodide symporter (NIS). Since NIS expression is primarily modulated by thyroid iodine content in vitro and in animal models, we attempted to determine whether iodine supply influences the expression and localization of human NIS (hNIS) in NFTNs.
Design: Using immunohistochemistry, we analyzed cold hyperplastic nodules and nonnodular thyroid samples (controls) from patients living in iodine-sufficient (n = 19) or severely iodine-deficient (n = 15) areas.
Main outcome: Nodules from the iodine-sufficient area exhibited weak or absent hNIS immunostaining whereas almost all nodules from the iodine-deficient area were hNIS positive. Heterogeneous hNIS staining was common among the iodine-deficient samples (p = 0.028). hNIS was localized on membrane in all nodular samples from the iodine-deficient area and in less than 40% in the iodine-sufficient area.
Conclusions: hNIS is adequately expressed and appropriately localized in NFTNs cell membrane from iodine-deficient areas and its expression in vivo is modulated by iodine supply.