Keratin subsets in papillary and follicular thyroid lesions. A paraffin section analysis with diagnostic implications

Markku Miettinen*, Albert J. Kovatich, Päivi Kärkkäinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Previous studies indicate that keratins 7, 8 and 18 are present in all thyroid papillary and follicular lesions, but the distribution of other keratins has been incompletely characterized. The profile of individual keratin (K) polypeptides was evaluated immunohistochemically in over 200 non-neoplastic and neoplastic thyroid papillary and follicular lesions. Monoclonal antibodies to K19, K17, K16, K5/6 and K10 were applied in paraffin sections of formaldehyde-fixed tissue. K19 was present variably, often only focally in goitres, and was present only sporadically in papillary hyperplasia. However, K19 was strongly and uniformly expressed in virtually all papillary carcinomas, indicating differential diagnostic usefulness in differentiating papillary hyperplasia and papillary carcinoma. About half of the follicular carcinomas (defined as tumours strictly excluding the follicular variant of papillary carcinoma) were also strongly K19-positive, suggesting that K19 patterns are not reliable in differentiating papillary and follicular carcinoma. K17 and K5/6 were present in cysts and squamous metaplasia of goitres, and focally in papillary but only exceptionally in follicular carcinoma in areas of squamous differentiation and tumour cells in desmoplastic stroma. K16 in turn was present only focally in well-developed squamous metaplasia in goitres but was not found in differentiated thyroid carcinomas. K10, a high-molecular-weight keratin typical of epidermal differentiation, was identified neither in non-neoplastic nor in neoplastic differentiated thyroid lesions, including squamous metaplasia. These results indicate that papillary carcinomas differ from other differentiated thyroid tumours in their varying, usually focal, expression of stratified epithelial keratins that are partly but not exclusively related to squamous differentiation in such lesions. However, papillary carcinomas do not express truly epidermally restricted keratins; their previously described reactivity with polyclonal 'epidermal keratin' antibodies most probably results from the reactivity of such antibodies with K19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-413
Number of pages7
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratins
  • Thyroid


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