The relation between solid cell nests and C cells of the thyroid gland: an immunohistochemical and morphometric investigation

Cell Tissue Res. 1979 Mar 19;197(2):295-312. doi: 10.1007/BF00233921.


Thyroid tissue of 300 routine autopsies was processed in a standardized manner. So-called solid cell nests (SCN) were found in 21 patients (7%). These cases were investigated carefully by serial step sectioning. In order to explore the correlation of SCN to the C-cell system, the sections were stained by silver impregnation and the immunoperoxidase method. Morphometric analyses revealed a significant increase in the density of C cells in the proximity of the SCN. With progressive distance from the SCN, the C-cell density decreased and reached normal values. In 30% of the cases argyrophilic and calcitonin-positive cells were found lying within the SCN. Occasionally, mixed follicles could be discerned: These were lined on the one side by a multilayered squamous epithelium, on the other side by normal monolayered cubic follicular epithelium, and contained a peculiar granular material. In one case, SCN were associated with intrathyroid portions of the parathyroids and adult adipose tissue, in a second case with adipose tissue only. Most probably SCN are vestiges of the ultimobranchial body and should be interpreted as such, despite the fact that other authors have expressed different views. The lack of disturbances in the calcium metabolism of the patients and the absence of medullary carcinoma in their family histories led us to interpret locally confined C-cell hyperplasia not as reactive nor premalignant, but rather as normal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Branchioma / pathology
  • Calcitonin / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Choristoma / pathology
  • Epithelium / anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Glands
  • Thyroid Gland / anatomy & histology*
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology


  • Calcitonin