Expression of the sodium iodide symporter and thyroglobulin genes are reduced in papillary thyroid cancer

Matthew D. Ringel, Jeffery Anderson, Suzikelli L. Souza, Henry B. Burch, Marcos Tambascia, Craig D. Shriver, R. Michael Tuttle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Altered expression of the gene encoding the sodium iodine symporter (NIS) may be an important factor that leads to the reduced iodine accumulation characteristic of most benign and malignant thyroid nodules. Both up- and down-regulation of NIS gene expression have been reported in thyroid cancer using several different methods. The goal of the present study was to accurately identify alterations in NIS gene expression in benign and malignant thyroid nodules using an accurate real-time quantitative RT-PCR assay system. Total RNA was prepared from 18 benign thyroid nodules, 20 papillary thyroid cancers, and 23 normal thyroid samples from 38 subjects. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to measure NIS and thyroglobulin (TG) mRNA expression in normal thyroid tissue and in each nodular tissue sample. Papillary thyroid cancer samples had significantly lower NIS mRNA expression (72 ± 41 picogram equivalents [pg Eq]), than did benign nodules (829 ± 385 pg Eq), or normal tissues (1907 ± 868 pg Eq, P = 0.04). Most important, in the paired samples, NIS gene expression was decreased in each papillary thyroid cancer compared with normal tissue (69% median decrease; range, 40-96%; P = .013). Eleven of the 12 benign nodules also demonstrated lower NIS gene expression than the normal tissue (49% decrease; range, 2-96%; P = .04). Analysis of the paired samples demonstrated that Tg mRNA expression was significantly lower in each of the thyroid cancer samples than in corresponding normal tissue (759 ± 245 pg Eq vs. 1854 ± 542 pg Eq, P = .03). We have demonstrated a significant decrement in NIS gene expression in all papillary thyroid cancers and in over 90% of benign nodules examined compared with adjacent normal thyroid tissue, using a highly accurate quantitative RT-PCR technique. Similarly, thyroid cancers demonstrated significantly lower TG mRNA expression than corresponding normal thyroid. Reduced NIS expression may be an important factor in the impairment of iodine-concentrating ability of neoplastic thyroid tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Quantitative RT-PCR
  • Sodium iodide symporter
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid nodules


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