Hypothesis: A change in tumor expression profile will be observed during the transformation of differentiated into anaplastic thyroid carcinoma.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: Population-based sample (British Columbia).
Patients: Sequential archival cases of anaplastic thyroid cancer with an adjacent associated differentiated thyroid cancer focus, and with available paraffin blocks, that had been diagnosed and treated in British Columbia during a 20-year period (12 cases; January 1, 1984, through December 31, 2004) were identified through the provincial tumor registry for tissue microarray construction.
Main outcome measure: Significant associations between marker staining and tumor pathologic diagnosis (differentiated vs anaplastic) were determined with contingency table and marginal homogeneity tests. A classifier algorithm was also used to identify useful and important molecular classifiers.
Results: Overall, there were 3 up-regulated and 5 down-regulated markers when comparing the anaplastic carcinoma with associated differentiated thyroid cancers. Contingency table statistics identified 5 markers (thyroglobulin, Bcl-2, MIB-1, E-cadherin, and p53) to be significantly differentially expressed by the anaplastic and differentiated tumor foci. These 5 markers and 3 others (beta-catenin, topoisomerase II-alpha, and vascular endothelial growth factor) were significant when evaluated using the marginal homogeneity test. Clustering and classification analysis based on these same 8 markers readily separated differentiated and anaplastic thyroid tumors with a high degree of accuracy.
Conclusion: The markers we observed to change during thyroid tumor progression may not only show promise as molecular diagnostic or prognostic tools but also warrant further study as potential targets for treatment of disease.