Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Sodium iodide symporter (NIS) in extrathyroidal malignancies: focus on breast and urological cancer

Salvatore Micali1, Stefania Bulotta2, Cinzia Puppin3, Angelo Territo1*, Michele Navarra4, Giampaolo Bianchi1, Giuseppe Damante3, Sebastiano Filetti5 and Diego Russo2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Urology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Largo del Pozzo, 71, Modena 41100, Italy

2 Department of Health Sciences, University of Catanzaro ‘Magna Graecia’, Catanzaro 88100, Italy

3 Department of Medical and Biological Sciences, University of Udine, Udine 33100, Italy

4 Department of Drug Sciences and Products for Health, University of Messina, Messina 98100, Italy

5 Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Specialties, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, Rome 00100, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:303  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-303

Published: 30 April 2014



Expression and function of sodium iodide symporter (NIS) is requisite for efficient iodide transport in thyrocytes, and its presence in cancer cells allows the use of radioiodine as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool in thyroid neoplasia. Discovery of NIS expression in extrathyroidal tissues, including transformed cells, has opened a novel field of research regarding NIS-expressing extrathyroidal neoplasia. Indeed, expression of NIS may be used as a biomarker for diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic purposes. Moreover, stimulation of endogenous NIS expression may permit the radioiodine treatment of extrathyroidal lesions by concentrating this radioisotope.


This review describes recent findings in NIS research in extrathyroidal malignancies, focusing on breast and urological cancer, emphasizing the most relevant developments that may have clinical impact.


Given the recent progress in the study of NIS regulation as molecular basis for new therapeutic approaches in extrathyroidal cancers, particular attention is given to studies regarding the relationship between NIS and clinical-pathological aspects of the tumors and the regulation of NIS expression in the experimental models.

Sodium iodide symporter (NIS); Extrathyroidal tissues; Breast cancer; Urological malignancies; Gene therapy