Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Cancer and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Immunohistochemical analysis based Ep-ICD subcellular localization index (ESLI) is a novel marker for metastatic papillary thyroid microcarcinoma

Tada Kunavisarut16, Ipshita Kak1, Christina MacMillan2, Ranju Ralhan12357* and Paul G Walfish123457

Author affiliations

1 Alex and Simona Shnaider Laboratory in Molecular Oncology, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, 60 Murray Street, Suite L6-304, Toronto, ON, M5T 3L9, Canada

2 Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Health Complex, 600 University Avenue, Room 6-423, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X5, Canada

3 Joseph and Mildred Sonshine Family Centre for Head and Neck Diseases, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Mount Sinai Hospital, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X5, Canada

4 Department of Medicine, Endocrine Division of Mount Sinai Hospital and University of Toronto Medical School, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X5, Canada

5 Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5G 2N2, Canada

6 Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, 10700, Thailand

7 Joseph and Mildred Sonshine Family Centre for Head and Neck Diseases, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Program, Mount Sinai Hospital, Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Health Complex, 600 University Avenue, Room 413, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X5, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:523  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-523

Published: 15 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Thyroid cancer is among the fastest growing malignancies; almost fifty-percent of these rapidly increasing incidence tumors are less than or equal to 1cm in size, termed papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC). The management of PTMC remains a controversy due to differing natural history of these patients. Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) is comprised of an extracellular domain (EpEx), a single transmembrane domain and an intracellular domain (Ep-ICD). Our group reported nuclear Ep-ICD correlated with poor prognosis in thyroid cancer (Ralhan et al., BMC Cancer 2010,10:331). Here in, we hypothesized nuclear and cytoplasmic accumulation of Ep-ICD and loss of membranous EpEx may aid in distinguishing metastatic from non-metastatic PTMC, which is an important current clinical challenge. To test our hypothesis, Ep-ICD and EpEx expression levels were analyzed in PTMC and the staining was correlated with metastatic potential of these carcinomas.

Methods

Thirty-six PTMC patients (tumor size 0.5 - 1cm; metastatic 8 cases and non-metastatic 28 cases) who underwent total thyroidectomy were selected. The metastatic group consisted of patients who developed lymph node or distant metastasis at diagnosis or during follow up. The patients’ tissues were stained for Ep-ICD and EpEx using domain specific antibodies by immunohistochemistry and evaluated.

Results

PTMC patients with metastasis had higher scores for nuclear and cytoplasmic Ep-ICD immunostaining than the patients without metastasis (1.96 ± 0.86 vs. 1.22 ± 0.45; p = 0.007 and 5.37 ± 0.33 vs. 4.72 ± 1.07; p = 0.016, respectively). Concomitantly, the former had lower scores for membrane EpEx than the non-metastatic group (4.64 ± 1.08 vs. 5.64 ± 1.51; p = 0.026). An index of aggressiveness, Ep-ICD subcellular localization index (ESLI), was defined as sum of the IHC scores for accumulation of nuclear and cytoplasmic Ep-ICD and loss of membranous EpEx; ESLI = [Ep − ICDnuc + Ep − ICDcyt + loss of membranous EpEx]. Notably, ESLI correlated significantly with lymph node metastasis in PTMC (p = 0.008).

Conclusion

Nuclear and cytoplasmic Ep-ICD expression and loss of membranous EpEx were found to correlate positively with metastasis in PTMC patients. In addition, ESLI had the potential to identify metastatic behavior in PTMC which could serve as a valuable tool for solving a current dilemma in clinical practice.

Keywords:
ESLI; EpCAM; Ep-ICD; EpEx; Papillary thyroid Microcarcinoma; Aggressiveness; Metastatic