Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is rare but extremely aggressive, which accounts for
about 2% of all thyroid cancers yet nearly 50% of thyroid-cancer-associated deaths
in the United States. The median survival time from diagnosis is 5 months, with a
1-year survival rate of only 20%. We report here a case of ATC in a 56-year-old man
who survived a large ATC. Preoperative fine-needle aspiration biopsy study to a
large right thyroid mass suggested ATC. Total thyroidectomy with radical lateral
neck and central neck dissection removed a well-circumscribed 9.5 cm tumor
without extrathyroidal extension or lymphovascular invasion. All 73 lymph nodes
removed were negative for metastasis. The tumor consisted of highly pleomorphic,
undifferentiated cells with large zones of necrosis and loss of thyroid
transcription factor-1 and thyroglobulin expression. A focal well-differentiated
component and PAX8 expression confirmed its thyroid follicular cell origin. Nine
months after postsurgical adjuvant concurrent radiation therapy and chemotherapy,
the patient remained well without clinical, biochemical, and radiographical evidence
for cancer recurrence. This is an unusual case of ATC in that it is one of the
largest ATC tumors reported to display mild pathologic behavior and relatively
long-term patient survival.
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is one of the most lethal human cancers with a median survival of 6 months. The inhibition of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) alone, or with vascular endothelial growth factor receptor2 (VEGFR2), represents an attractive approach for treatment of ATC. Several reports have examined agents that target these receptors. However, with the misidentification of as many as 60% of all commonly used ATC cell lines, the significance of these past findings is unclear.
Cell lines authenticated by short tandem repeat profiling were selected to establish xenograft tumors in an orthotopic murine model of ATC. These mice were then treated with vandetanib to evaluate its effects on ATC tumor growth. Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) was utilized to measure the impact of vandetanib on tumor vasculature.
Vandetanib inhibited tumor growth of the ATC cell lines Hth83 and 8505C in vivo by 69.3% (p<0.001) and 66.6% (p<0.05), respectively, when compared to control. Significant decreases in vascular permeability (p<0.01) and vascular volume fraction (p<0.05) were detected by DCE-MRI in the orthotopic xenograft tumors after one week of treatment with vandetanib as compared to control.
The inhibition of EGFR and VEGFR2 by vandetanib and its tremendous in vivo anti-tumor activity against ATC make it an attractive candidate for further pre-clinical as well as clinical development for the treatment of this particularly virulent cancer which remains effectively untreatable. Vandetanib disrupts angiogenesis and DCE-MRI is an effective method to quantify changes in vascular function in vivo.
Thyroid cancers represent about 1% of all human cancers. Differentiate thyroid carcinomas (DTCs), papillary and follicular cancers, are the most frequent forms, instead Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma (ATC) is estimated to comprise 1–2% of thyroid malignancies and it accounts for 14–39% of thyroid cancer deaths. The annual incidence of ATC is about one to two cases/million, with the overall incidence being higher in Europe (and area of endemic goiter) than in USA. ATC has a more complex genotype than DTCs, with chromosomal aberrations present in 85–100% of cases. A small number of gene mutations have been identified, and there appears to be a progression in mutations acquired during dedifferentiation. The mean survival time is around 6 months from diagnosis an outcome that is frequently not altered by treatment. ATC presents with a rapidly growing fixed and hard neck mass, often metastatic local lymph nodes appreciable on examination and/or vocal paralysis. Symptoms may reflect rapid growth of tumor with local invasion and/or compression. The majority of patients with ATC die from aggressive local regional disease, primarily from upper airway respiratory failure. For this reason, aggressive local therapy is indicated in all patients who can tolerate it. Although rarely possible, complete surgical resection gives the best chance of long-term control and improved survival. Therapy options include surgery, external beam radiation therapy, tracheostomy, chemotherapy, and investigational clinical trials. Multimodal or combination therapy should be useful. In fact, surgical debulking of local tumor, combined with external beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy as neoadjuvant (before surgery) or adjuvant (after surgery) therapy, may prevent death from local airway obstruction and as best may slight prolong survival. Investigational clinical trials in phase I or in phase II are actually in running and they include anti-angiogenetic drugs, multi-kinase inhibitor drugs.
anaplastic; cancer; genetic alteration; prognosis; therapy; thyroid; treatment; tumor
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is the most aggressive thyroid cancer variant, accounting for 1–2% of all cases, but 33% of deaths, and exhibiting an average life expectancy of 5 months. ATC is largely unresponsive to radioactive iodine, chemotherapy, external beam radiation or surgery, underscoring the need for new and effective therapies. We evaluated the therapeutic potential of an oncolytic adenovirus, ONYX-411, that replicates selectively in and kills cells with dysfunction of the retinoblastoma (RB) pathway. In the present study, we report that ONYX-411 is able to induce cell death in eight human anaplastic carcinoma cell lines in vitro. The cytopathic effect of the virus is specific to cells with RB dysfunction, which appears to be frequent in ATC. We confirmed the expression of the coxsackie adenovirus receptor, CAR, in all ATC cell lines, demonstrating the potentially universal application of this oncolytic viral therapy to ATC. In addition, the growth of xenograft tumors induced in athymic mice with the ARO and DRO cell lines was significantly reduced by ONYX-411 treatment. These results indicate that ONYX-411 can be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of ATC, rendering this class of conditionally replicating adenoviruses an attractive candidate for clinical trials.
anaplastic thyroid carcinoma; ONYX-411; retinoblastoma dysfunction; novel therapeutic agent
A relationship between the increased density of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and decreased survival was recently reported in thyroid cancer patients. Among these tumors, anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is one of the most aggressive solid tumors in humans. TAMs (type M2) have been recognized as promoting tumor growth. The purpose of our study was to analyze with immunohistochemistry the presence of TAMs in a series of 27 ATC.
Several macrophages markers such as NADPH oxidase complex NOX2-p22phox, CD163 and CD 68 were used. Immunostainings showed that TAMs represent more than 50% of nucleated cells in all ATCs. Moreover, these markers allowed the identification of elongated thin ramified cytoplasmic extensions, bestowing a “microglia-like” appearance on these cells which we termed “Ramified TAMs” (RTAMs). In contrast, cancer cells were totally negative. Cellular stroma was highly simplified since apart from cancer cells and blood vessels, RTAMs were the only other cellular component. RTAMs were evenly distributed and intermingled with cancer cells, and were in direct contact with other RTAMs via their ramifications. Moreover, RTAMs displayed strong immunostaining for connexin Cx43. Long chains of interconnected RTAMs arose from perivascular clusters and were dispersed within the tumor parenchyma. When expressed, the glucose transporter Glut1 was found in RTAMs and blood vessels, but rarely in cancer cells.
ATCs display a very dense network of interconnected RTAMs in direct contact with intermingled cancer cells. To our knowledge this is the first time that such a network is described in a malignant tumor. This network was found in all our studied cases and appeared specific to ATC, since it was not found in differentiated thyroid cancers specimens. Taken together, these results suggest that RTAMs network is directly related to the aggressiveness of the disease via metabolic and trophic functions which remain to be determined.
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is the most lethal form of thyroid neoplasia and represents the end stage of thyroid tumor progression. No effective treatment exists so far. ATC frequently derive from papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC), which have a good prognosis. In this study, we analyzed the mRNA expression profiles of 59 thyroid tumors (11 ATC and 48 PTC) by microarrays. ATC and PTC showed largely overlapping mRNA expression profiles with most genes regulated in all ATC being also regulated in several PTC. 43% of the probes regulated in all the PTC are similarly regulated in all ATC. Many genes modulations observed in PTC are amplified in ATC. This illustrates the fact that ATC mostly derived from PTC. A molecular signature of aggressiveness composed of 9 genes clearly separates the two tumors. Moreover, this study demonstrates gene regulations corresponding to the ATC or PTC phenotypes like inflammatory reaction, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and invasion, high proliferation rate, dedifferentiation, calcification and fibrosis processes, high glucose metabolism and glycolysis, lactate generation and chemoresistance. The main qualitative differences between the two tumor types bear on the much stronger EMT, dedifferentiation and glycolytic phenotypes showed by the ATC.
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is the rarest, but deadliest histologic type among thyroid malignancies, with a dismal median survival of 3-9 mo. Even though ATC accounts for less than 2% of all thyroid tumors, it is responsible for 14%-39% of thyroid carcinoma-related deaths. ATC clinically presents as a rapidly growing mass in the neck, associated with dyspnoea, dysphagia and vocal cord paralysis. It is usually locally advanced and often metastatic at initial presentation. For operable diseases, the combination of radical surgery with adjuvant radiotherapy or chemotherapy, using agents such as doxorubicin and cisplatin, is the best treatment strategy. Cytotoxic drugs for advanced/metastatic ATC are poorly effective. On the other hand, targeted agents might represent a viable therapeutic option. Axitinib, combretastatin A4, sorafenib and imatinib have been tested in small clinical trials of ATC, with a promising disease control rate ranging from 33% to 75%. Other clinical trials of targeted therapy for thyroid carcinoma are currently ongoing. Biological agents that are under investigation include pazopanib, gefitinib and everolimus. With the very limited therapeutic armamentarium available at the present time, targeted therapy constitutes an exciting new horizon for ATC. In future, biological agents will probably represent the standard of care for this aggressive malignancy, in the same fashion as it has recently occurred for other chemo-refractory tumors, such as kidney and hepatic cancer.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer; Targeted agents
Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is an uncommon malignancy of the thyroid. Only 1-2% of thyroid cancers are anaplastic, but the disease contributes to 14–50% of the mortality with a median survival of 3 to 5 months. Most patients diagnosed with this disease are 65 years of age or older. The incidence of anaplastic thyroid cancer is decreasing worldwide. Most patients present with a rapidly growing neck mass, dysphagia, or voice change. We performed a comprehensive literature search using PubMed focusing on the treatment of anaplastic thyroid cancer including historical review of treatment and outcomes and investigations of new agents and approaches. A total of sixteen chart review and retrospective studies and eleven prospective studies and/or clinical trials were reviewed. The current standard therapeutic approach is to consider the disease as systemic at time of diagnosis and pursue combined modality therapy incorporating cytoreductive surgical resection where feasible and/or chemoradiation either concurrently or sequentially. Doxorubicin is the most commonly used agent, with a response rate of 22%. Several new agents are currently under investigation. Referral of patients for participation in clinical trials is needed.
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is among the most aggressive human malignancies. It is associated with a high rate of local recurrence and with poor prognosis.
We retrospectively reviewed 44 consecutive patients treated between 1996 and 2010 at Leon Berard Cancer Centre, Lyon, France. The combined treatment strategy derived from the one developed at the Institut Gustave Roussy included total thyroidectomy and cervical lymph-node dissection, when feasible, combined with 2 cycles of doxorubicin (60 mg/m2) and cisplatin (100 mg/m2) Q3W, hyperfractionated (1.2 Gy twice daily) radiation to the neck and upper mediastinum (46-50 Gy), and then four cycles of doxorubicin-cisplatin.
Thirty-five patients received the three-phase combined treatment. Complete response after treatment was achieved in 14/44 patients (31.8%). Eight patients had a partial response (18.2%). Twenty-two (50%) had progressive disease. All patients with metastases at diagnosis died shortly afterwards. Thirteen patients are still alive. The median survival of the entire population was 8 months.
Despite the ultimately dismal prognosis of ATC, multimodality treatment significantly improves local control and appears to afford long-term survival in some patients. There is active ongoing research, and results obtained with new targeted systemic treatment appear encouraging.
A 63-year-old female was admitted to our hospital with a tender abdominal wall mass about 15 cm in diameter, which she had for 1 month. About 1 week earlier, the patient had also perceived a mass in the neck area. Computed tomography revealed huge thyroid and periumbilical masses. The thyroid hormone levels were consistent with a hyperthyroid state. Pathological examination of the thyroid mass was compatible with anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) and the abdominal cutaneous mass was shown to be metastatic ATC. Despite palliative radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the patient died of respiratory failure on her 63rd day of hospitalization. This case demonstrates that abdominal cutaneous metastasis and hyperthyroidism can occur as initial manifestations of ATC. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case.
Thyroid neoplasms; Anaplastic carcinoma; Cutaneous metastasis; Hyperthyroidism
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is the most aggressive form of thyroid cancer, and often derives from pre-existing well-differentiated tumors. Despite a relatively low prevalence, it accounts for a disproportionate number of thyroid cancer-related deaths, due to its resistance to any therapeutic approach. Here we describe the first mouse model of ATC, obtained by combining in the mouse thyroid follicular cells two molecular hallmarks of human ATC: activation of PI3K (via Pten deletion) and inactivation of p53. By 9 months of age, over 75% of the compound mutant mice develop aggressive, undifferentiated thyroid tumors that evolve from pre-existing follicular hyperplasia and carcinoma. These tumors display all the features of their human counterpart, including pleomorphism, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, aneuploidy, local invasion, and distant metastases. Expression profiling of the murine ATCs reveals a significant overlap with genes found deregulated in human ATC, including genes involved in mitosis control. Furthermore, similar to the human tumors, [Pten, p53]thyr−/− tumors and cells are highly glycolytic and remarkably sensitive to glycolysis inhibitors, which synergize with standard chemotherapy. Taken together, our results show that combined PI3K activation and p53 loss faithfully reproduce the development of thyroid anaplastic carcinomas, and provide a compelling rationale for targeting glycolysis to increase chemotherapy response in ATC patients.
thyroid cancer; mouse model; anaplastic; glycolysis; PI3K; Pten; p53
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is one of the most malignant human neoplasms and has a grave prognosis. This study gives an update on our experience with this unusual neoplasm, with specific focus on the response to various treatment modalities. Forty-seven patients with histologically proven ATCs were enrolled (19 men, 28 women; mean age, 62.8 years). This number represents 1.5% among a total of 3,088 thyroid cancers treated between 1977 and 2002. The mean tumor diameter was 8.8 cm, and 22 patients had distant metastasis. Extrathyroidal extension was seen in 26 (89.7%) of the cases that underwent surgery. Treatment modalities adopted could be classified into 5 groups: Group 1, biopsy only; Group 2, biopsy and chemoradiotherapy; Group 3, debulking only; Goup 4, debulking and chemoradiotherapy; Group 5, complete excision and chemoradiotherapy. Survival was calculated from the time of diagnosis, and comparisons of survival were done by log-rank analysis. The mean survival was 4.3 months (range, 1.0-21 months). The mean survival based on treatment modalities were as follows: Group 1 (n = 10), 2.1 months, Group 2 (n = 8); 3.6 months; Group 3 (n = 7), 3.0 months; Group 4 (n = 14), 3.5 months, Group 5 (n = 8), 9.4 months. There was no significant difference in survival time between the various types of treatment modalities. Even though a small improvement in survival was observed with complete excision and aggressive multimodality therapy, nearly all ATCs remain unresponsive to ongoing treatment modalities and as such, present a therapeutic dilemma. A more effective treatment regimen should be sought in order to improve survival.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer; treatment modalities; treatment outcome
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is a rare and highly aggressive thyroid neoplasm. Bleeding from tumor is an uncommon, but potentially life-threatening complication requiring sophisticated intervention facilities which are not usually available at odd hours in emergency. We report the case of a 45-year-old woman who presented with exsanguinating hemorrhage from ATC and was treated by emergency total thyroidectomy. The patient is well three months postoperatively. Emergency total thyroidectomy is a viable option for palliation in ATC presenting with bleeding.
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma; Thyroidectomy; Active bleeding
Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is an undifferentiated, aggressive malignancy, for which there are no effective therapies. Though ATCs only make up less than 2% of all thyroid cancer cases, they represent over half of the thyroid cancer related deaths. Chrysin, a natural flavonoid, has recently been reported as a potential anti-cancer agent. However, the effect of this compound on ATC cells is not known. Thus, in this study, we evaluated the antiproliferative nature of Chrysin in ATC cells.
HTH7 and KAT18 cells, derived from patients with ATC, were treated with Chrysin (25–50 μM) for up to 6 days. Cell proliferation was measured every 2 days using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT). Western blot analysis for molecular makers of apoptosis was carried out to investigate the effect and mechanism of Chrysin on ATC.
Chrysin inhibited proliferation of HTH7 and KAT18 in a dose and time dependent manner. HTH7 and KAT18 cells with Chrysin treatment showed a significant increase in cleaved caspase-3, cleaved PolyADP Ribose Polymerase (PARP), along with a decrease in cyclin D1, Mcl-1 and XIAP. Furthermore, the ratio of Bax to Bcl-2 expression in ATC cells revealed an increase after the treatment.
Chrysin inhibits growth in ATC cells via apoptosis in vitro. Therefore, the natural flavonoid Chrysin warrants further clinical investigation as a new potential drug for the treatment for ATC.
anaplastic thyroid cancer; chrysin; apoptosis; proliferation
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) remains one of the most lethal known human cancers. Targeted molecular therapy with cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody against EGFR, offers new treatment potentials for patient with ATC. Cetuximab has also been reported to have synergistic effects when combined with irinotecan, a topoisomerase inhibitor. Therefore, we hypothesized that cetuximab and irinotecan would be effective in inhibiting the growth and progression of ATC in a murine orthotopic model.
The in vitro anti-proliferative effects of cetuximab and irinotecan on ATC cell line ARO were examined. We also studied the in vivo effects of cetuximab and irinotecan on the growth, invasion, and metastasis of orthotopic ATC tumors in nude mice. The in vivo antitumor efficacy of cetuximab/irinotecan combination was also compared with that of doxorubicin.
Cetuximab alone did not show any anti-proliferative or pro-apoptotic effect on this cell line. However, when combined with irinotecan, cetuximab potentiated the in vitro anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effect of irinotecan. Cetuximab, irinotecan, and cetuximab/irinotecan combination resulted in 77%, 79%, and 93% in vivo inhibition of tumor growth, respectively. Incidences of lymph node metastasis, laryngeal invasion, and tumor microvessel density were also significantly decreased in these treatment groups. Furthermore, the cetuximab/irinotecan combination was significantly more effective than doxorubicin in inhibiting the growth of orthotopic ATC xenografts.
Combination therapy with cetuximab/irinotecan inhibits the growth and progression of orthotopic ATC xenografts in nude mice. Given the lack of curative options for patients with ATC, combination therapy with cetuximab and irinotecan treatment warrants further study.
Fosbretabulin is a novel vascular-disrupting agent that has antitumor activity against anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) cell lines, xenografts, and demonstrable efficacy in a phase I trial. This phase II study determined the efficacy and safety of fosbretabulin in patients with advanced ATC and whether fosbretabulin altered the natural history of ATC by virtue of doubling the median survival. A secondary aim evaluated the prognostic value of serum soluble intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM).
Twenty-six patients received fosbretabulin 45 mg/m2 as a 10-minute intravenous infusion on days 1, 8, and 15 of a 28-day cycle. sICAM levels were obtained at baseline, over the first two cycles, and end of therapy. Treatment was continued until disease progression.
Fosbretabulin was well tolerated; grade 3 toxicity was observed in nine patients (35%), and grade 4 toxicity in one (4%). QTc prolongation delayed treatment in four causing one to stop treatment. Median survival was 4.7 months with 34% and 23% alive at 6 and 12 months, respectively. Median duration of stable disease in seven patients was 12.3 months (range, 4.4–37.9 months). Baseline serum sICAM levels were measured in 24 patients with a median 253.5 ng/mL. There was a significant difference in event-free survival among tertiles of baseline sICAM levels (p < 0.009).
There were no objective responses seen with single-agent fosbretabulin as administered in this trial, and we did not observe a doubling of survival as our primary endpoint. This is among the largest prospective trials ever conducted for ATC. Fosbretabulin has an acceptable safety profile in patients with advanced ATC, and one-third survived more than 6 months. Despite a small sample size, low baseline sICAM levels were predictive of event-free survival. Further prospective validation of sICAM as a therapeutic biomarker and exploring combination regimens with fosbretabulin are warranted.
Patients with anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) typically succumb to their disease months after diagnosis despite aggressive therapy. A large percentage of ATCs have been shown to harbor the V600E B-Raf point mutation, leading to the constitutive activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. ATC invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis are in part dependent on the gelatinase class of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The explicit targeting of these two tumor markers may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of ATC. The MMP-activated Anthrax Lethal Toxin (LeTx), a novel recombinant protein toxin combination, demonstrates potent MAPK pathway inhibition in gelatinase-expressing V600E B-Raf tumor cells in vitro. However, preliminary in vivo studies showed that the MMP-activated LeTx also exhibited dramatic anti-tumor activity against xenografts that did not show significant anti-proliferative responses to the LeTx in vitro. Here we show that the MMP-activated LeTx inhibits orthotopic ATC xenograft progression in both toxin-sensitive and resistant ATC cells via reduced endothelial cell recruitment and subsequent tumor vascularization. This in turn translates to an improved long-term survival that is comparable to that produced by the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib. Our results also indicate that therapy with the MMP-activated LeTx is extremely effective against advanced tumors with well-established vascular networks. Taken together, these results suggest that the MMP-activated LeTx-mediated endothelial cell targeting is the primary in vivo anti-tumor mechanism of this novel toxin. Therefore, the MMP-activated LeTx could be used not only in the clinical management of V600E B-Raf ATC, but potentially in any solid tumor.
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma; anthrax lethal toxin; lethal factor; matrix metalloproteinase; protective antigen; tumor angiogenesis; vascular endothelial growth factor
Novel therapeutic regimens are needed to improve the dismal outcomes of patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC). Oncolytic herpes simplex virus have shown promising activity against human ATC. We studied the application of oncolytic herpes simplex virus (G207 and NV1023) in combination with currently used chemotherapeutic drugs (paclitaxel and doxorubicin) for the treatment of ATC.
Experimental Design and Results
All four agents showed dose-response cytotoxicity in vitro for the human ATC cell lines KAT4 and DRO90-1. G207, combined with paclitaxel, showed synergistic cytotoxicity. Chou-Talalay combination indices ranged from 0.56 to 0.66 for KAT4, and 0.68 to 0.74 for DRO90-1at higher affected fractions. Paclitaxel did not enhance G207 viral entry and early gene expression or G207 viral replication. Paclitaxel combined with G207 compared with single-agent treatment or controls showed significantly increased microtubule acetylation, mitotic arrest, aberrant chromatid separation, inhibition of metaphase to anaphase progression, and apoptosis. A single i.t. injection of G207 combined with biweekly i.p. paclitaxel injections in athymic nude mice bearing KAT4 flank tumors showed significantly reduced mean tumor volume (74 F 38 mm3) compared with G207 alone (388 F 109 mm3), paclitaxel alone (439 F 137 mm3), and control (520 F 160 mm3) groups at 16 days. There was no morbidity in vivo attributable to therapy.
Mechanisms of paclitaxel antitumoral activity, including microtubule acetylation, mitotic block, and apoptosis, were enhanced by G207, which also has direct oncolytic effects. Combination of G207 and paclitaxel therapy is synergistic in treating ATC and holds promise for patients with this fatal disease.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rare malignancy. While external beam radiation therapy has improved locoregional control, the median survival of ∼ 4 months has not changed in more than half a century due to uncontrolled systemic metastases. The objective of this study was to review the literature in order to identify potential new strategies for treating this highly lethal cancer. PubMed searches were the principal source of articles reviewed. The molecular pathogenesis of ATC includes mutations in BRAF, RAS, catenin (cadherin-associated protein), beta 1, PIK3CA, TP53, AXIN1, PTEN, and APC genes, and chromosomal abnormalities are common. Several microarray studies have identified genes and pathways preferentially affected, and dysregulated microRNA profiles differ from differentiated thyroid cancers. Numerous proteins involving transcription factors, signaling pathways, mitosis, proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis, adhesion, migration, epigenetics, and protein degradation are affected. A variety of agents have been successful in controlling ATC cell growth both in vitro and in nude mice xenografts. While many of these new compounds are in cancer clinical trials, there are few studies being conducted in ATC. With the recent increased knowledge of the many critical genes and proteins affected in ATC, and the extensive array of targeted therapies being developed for cancer patients, there are new opportunities to design clinical trials based upon tumor molecular profiling and preclinical studies of potentially synergistic combinatorial novel therapies.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is one of the most lethal human malignancies. Its rapid onset and resistance to conventional therapeutics contribute to a mean survival of six months after diagnosis and make the identification of thyroid-cancer-initiating cells increasingly important.
In prior studies of ATC cell lines, CD133+ cells exhibited stem-cell-like features such as high proliferation, self-renewal and colony-forming ability in vitro. Here we show that transplantation of CD133+ cells, but not CD133− cells, into immunodeficient NOD/SCID mice is sufficient to induce growth of tumors in vivo. We also describe how the proportion of ATC cells that are CD133+ increases dramatically over three months of culture, from 7% to more than 80% of the total. This CD133+ cell pool can be further separated by flow cytometry into two distinct populations: CD133+/high and CD133+/low. Although both subsets are capable of long-term tumorigenesis, the rapidly proliferating CD133+/high cells are by far the most efficient. They also express high levels of the stem cell antigen Oct4 and the receptor for thyroid stimulating hormone, TSHR. Treating ATC cells with TSH causes a three-fold increase in the numbers of CD133+ cells and elicits a dose-dependent up-regulation of the expression of TSHR and Oct4 in these cells. More importantly, immunohistochemical analysis of tissue specimens from ATC patients indicates that CD133 is highly expressed on tumor cells but not on neighboring normal thyroid cells.
To our knowledge, this is the first report indicating that CD133+ ATC cells are solely responsible for tumor growth in immunodeficient mice. Our data also give a unique insight into the regulation of CD133 by TSH. These highly tumorigenic CD133+ cells and the activated TSH signaling pathway may be useful targets for future ATC therapies.
Thyroid cancers are infiltrated with tumor associated-macrophages (TAMs), yet their role in cancer progression is not known. The objectives of this study were to characterize the density of TAMs in well-differentiated (WDTC), poorly-differentiated (PDTC) and anaplastic thyroid cancers (ATC) and to correlate TAM density with clinicopathologic parameters. Immunohistochemistry was performed on tissue microarray sections from WDTC (n=33), PDTC (n=37) and ATC (n=20) using macrophage specific markers. Electronic medical records were used to gather clinical and pathologic data. Follow-up information of PDTC patients was available for 0−12 years. Nine of 33 WDTC (27%), 20/37PDTC (54%) and 19/20 ATC (95%) had an increased density of CD68+ TAMs (=/>10 per 0.28 mm2) (p = 0.03, WDTC vs. PDTC; p < 0.0001. WDTC vs. ATC; p < 0.002, PDTC vs. ATC). Increased TAMs in PDTC was associated with capsular invasion (p = 0.034), extrathyroidal extension (p = 0.009) and decreased cancer-related survival (p = 0.009) compared to PDTC with a low density of TAMs. In conclusion, the density of TAMs is increased in advanced thyroid cancers. The presence of a high density of TAMs in PDTC correlates with invasion and decreased cancer-related survival. These results suggest that TAMs may facilitate tumor progression. As novel therapies directed against thyroid tumor cell-specific targets are being tested, the potential role of TAMs as potential modulators of the thyroid cancer behavior will need to be considered.
Tumor associated macrophages; Human thyroid cancer; CD68+ TAMs; Poorly-differentiated thyroid cancer; BRAF
Anaplastic thyroid cancer is known to have a poor prognosis due to its aggressive and rapid metastasis with median survival of less than 6 months. Multimodal treatment involving surgery and chemoradiotherapy has been used to improve the survival of patients. Here, we retrospectively review of treatment outcome of 13 consecutive patients who were treated at a single center.
Materials and Methods
We retrospectively reviewed medical records of 13 anaplastic thyroid cancer patients who received multidisciplinary treatment between 2006 and 2010. Kaplan-Meier survival curve was used to analyze progression-free survival and overall survival of patients.
The median patient age at diagnosis was 69 years, and six patients had stage IVc diseases. Eight patients received primary surgery followed by radiotherapy or concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT). Five patients received weekly doxorubicin-based definitive CCRT, but only one patient's condition remained stable, while the rest experienced rapid disease progression. The median progression-free survival was 2.8 months (95% CI, 1.2-4.4 months), and the median overall survival was 3.8 months (95% CI, 3.0-4.6 months).
Patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer showed poor prognosis despite multimodality treatment. Therefore, identification of novel therapeutic targets is warranted to take an effective mode of treatment.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer; treatment outcome; prognosis; survival; chemoradiotherapy
Recent publications suggest that neoplastic initiation and growth are dependent on a small subset of cells, termed cancer stem cells (CSCs). Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma (ATC) is a very aggressive solid tumor with poor prognosis, characterized by high dedifferentiation. The existence of CSCs might account for the heterogeneity of ATC lesions. CD133 has been identified as a stem cell marker for normal and cancerous tissues, although its biological function remains unknown.
ATC cell lines ARO, KAT-4, KAT-18 and FRO were analyzed for CD133 expression. Flow cytometry showed CD133pos cells only in ARO and KAT-4 (64±9% and 57±12%, respectively). These data were confirmed by qRT-PCR and immunocytochemistry. ARO and KAT-4 were also positive for fetal marker oncofetal fibronectin and negative for thyrocyte-specific differentiating markers thyroglobulin, thyroperoxidase and sodium/iodide symporter. Sorted ARO/CD133pos cells exhibited higher proliferation, self-renewal, colony-forming ability in comparison with ARO/CD133neg. Furthermore, ARO/CD133pos showed levels of thyroid transcription factor TTF-1 similar to the fetal thyroid cell line TAD-2, while the expression in ARO/CD133neg was negligible. The expression of the stem cell marker OCT-4 detected by RT-PCR and flow cytometry was markedly higher in ARO/CD133pos in comparison to ARO/CD133neg cells. The stem cell markers c-KIT and THY-1 were negative. Sensitivity to chemotherapy agents was investigated, showing remarkable resistance to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in ARO/CD133pos when compared with ARO/CD133neg cells.
We describe CD133pos cells in ATC cell lines. ARO/CD133pos cells exhibit stem cell-like features - such as high proliferation, self-renewal ability, expression of OCT-4 - and are characterized by higher resistance to chemotherapy. The simultaneous positivity for thyroid specific factor TTF-1 and onfFN suggest they might represent putative thyroid cancer stem-like cells. Our in vitro findings might provide new insights for novel therapeutic approaches.
Thyroid cancer is one of the most common malignancies of the endocrine system with increasing incidence. The vast majority of thyroid carcinomas derive from thyroid hormone producing follicular cells. Carcinomas of follicular origin are classified as follicular (FTCs), papillary (PTCs), partially differentiated (PDTCs) or anaplastic (ATCs) thyroid carcinomas. While FTCs and PTCs can be managed effectively, ATCs are considered one of the most lethal human cancers. Despite the identification of various genetic alterations, pathogenic mechanisms promoting the progression of thyroid carcinomas are still largely elusive. Over the recent years, aberrant microRNA expression was revealed in all as yet analyzed human cancers, including thyroid carcinomas. In view of the rapidly evolving perception that deregulated microRNA expression serves a pivotal role in tumor progression, microRNAs provide powerful tools for the diagnosis of thyroid carcinomas as well as the identification of potential therapeutic targets. Here, we summarize recent findings on microRNA signatures in thyroid carcinomas of follicular origin and discuss how deregulated microRNA expression could promote cancer progression.
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is the most aggressive and lethal form of thyroid malignancy which is difficult to treat. At the time of diagnosis, majority of patients have distant metastases most commonly in lung, bone, and liver. However nasal tip metastasis is not reported in literature. Implantation of malignant cells on nasal tip is also unknown. We hereby report an interesting and unusual mechanism for nasal tip metastasis in a patient with ATC.
Thyroid carcinoma; Nasal metastasis; Implantation metastasis