Background: Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been detected in the thyroid gland and thyroid tumors. CMV infection may activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, of which aberrant activation is frequently associated with BRAF mutation in papillary thyroid cancer.
Methods: A total of 45 paired tumorous and adjacent non-neoplastic tissue samples, including 5 follicular adenoma and 40 papillary thyroid cancer, were obtained during thyroidectomy. BRAF mutational status was determined using direct sequencing. The presence of CMV DNA was determined using conventional PCR and quantitative real-time PCR. CMV protein in the tissue samples were evaluated with Western blot analysis.
Results: BRAF mutation was identified in the cancerous part of 31 (78%) papillary thyroid cancers. Papillary cancer with BRAF mutation was significantly associated with a larger tumor size (P = 0.045), extrathyroidal invasion (P = 0.012), lymph node metastasis (P = 0.008), and a higher TNM stage (P = 0.044). CMV DNA and protein were not detected in any studied samples.
Conclusions: Our results suggest no association between CMV infection and papillary thyroid cancer.