The correlation between calcification and papillary thyroid carcinoma has received increasing attention. We investigated the ability of bone sialoprotein (BSP) and osteopontin (OPN) protein levels to diagnose papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), and explored the correlation between BSP and OPN protein levels and calcification in PTC. Archival PTC specimens from patients with PTC with calcification and lateral cervical lymph node metastasis (LNM) were included in this retrospective immunohistochemical study. The protein levels of BSP and OPN were analysed immunohistochemically using routinely prepared tissue sections. PTC specimens from 66 patients with PTC were reviewed retrospectively (25 patients with histological calcification seen in paraffin sections, 41 patients without calcification; 35 patients with lateral cervical LNM, 31 patients without LNM). The percentage of samples that had cells that demonstrated positive protein staining differed significantly between PTC specimens, benign thyroid nodules, and adjacent normal follicular epithelium (BSP: 87.88%, 55.00%, and 42.50%, respectively; OPN: 83.33%, 70.00% and 50.00%, respectively). There was a significant difference in the immunohistochemical score (IHS) for BSP and OPN protein staining between PTC specimens with and without calcification (P < 0.05). The level of BSP protein staining was found to be significantly correlated with the level of OPN protein staining in PTC specimens. We conclude that the strong correlation between BSP and OPN and PTC suggests a role for BSP and OPN in calcification and tumor progression of PTC. BSP and OPN might be useful tumour markers for the diagnosis of PTC with limited value, because both of them had low specificity.
Keywords: Papillary thyroid carcinoma; bone sialoprotein (BSP); calcification; immunohistochemistry; osteopontin (OPN).