Hürthle cell and mitochondrion-rich papillary carcinomas of the thyroid gland: an ultrastructural and immunocytochemical study

Ultrastruct Pathol. 1985;8(2-3):131-42. doi: 10.3109/01913128509142147.


Of 52 consecutive papillary carcinomas of the thyroid, the following cases were included in this study: one Hürthle cell papillary carcinoma, one papillary carcinoma with foci of Hürthle cells, and 10 cases of papillary carcinoma with abundant mitochondria (volumetric density of mitochondria greater than or equal to 20%). All cases were studied by light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and immunocytochemistry. Our results showed that papillary carcinomas mainly or exclusively composed of Hürthle cells are very rare; that Hürthle cell papillary carcinomas of the thyroid share the biologic characteristics and blend insidiously with the so-called mitochondrion-rich papillary carcinomas; that TEM and SEM can provide useful evidence for achieving the differential diagnosis between Hürthle cell and so-called mitochondrion-rich papillary carcinomas; and that immunocytochemical studies are useless in the aforementioned differential diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / ultrastructure*


  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen