Parafibromin and APC as screening markers for malignant potential in atypical parathyroid adenomas

Endocr Pathol. 2010 Sep;21(3):166-77. doi: 10.1007/s12022-010-9121-z.


The identification of parathyroid carcinomas is based upon histopathological criteria in which an invasive growth pattern or distant metastasis is demonstrated. A dilemma arises when tumours present with atypical histopathological features but lack direct evidence of malignancy. Recently, reduced expression or loss of the tumour suppressor proteins parafibromin and adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) has been associated with parathyroid malignancy. We report results from APC and parafibromin expression analyses by immunohistochemistry and Western blot in five cases of atypical adenoma, a single case of carcinoma and 54 adenomas without atypical features. Complete loss of APC immunoreactivity and reduced expression of parafibromin was evident in two of the atypical adenomas and in the parathyroid carcinoma. By contrast, all adenomas displayed APC expression, including two cases with hyperparathyroidism 2 gene (HRPT2) mutations and loss of parafibromin expression. We conclude that loss of APC is a frequent molecular event in atypical adenomas and carcinomas, but not in adenomas. Following verification in an independent material, APC could become a valuable tool when assessing parathyroid tumours in the clinical setting. Furthermore, the molecular resemblance of atypical adenomas with carcinoma concerning parafibromin and APC expression indicates that atypical adenomas should be subjects to watchful follow-up.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / genetics
  • Adenoma / metabolism*
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein / biosynthesis*
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein / genetics
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / genetics
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics


  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CDC73 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins