Expression of hepatocyte growth factor in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with nodular lesions


Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) is an autoimmune thyroid disease frequently associated with hyperplastic nodules (HN)s. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is expressed in benign thyroid nodules and over-expressed in malignant thyroid nodules, particularly in papillary thyroid carcinomas. To elucidate the role of HGF in the development of HNs in association with HT we evaluated, by immunohistochemistry, the expression of HGF in both nodular and extranodular tissues, obtained from 30 HTs and 15 goiter samples. Six normal thyroid glands were used as controls.All normal control tissue samples exhibited no evidence of HGF immunoreaction. HNs showed weak to moderate HGF immunoreaction,which was located exclusively in the cytoplasm of stromal cells (fibroblasts and endothelial cells). However, the percentage of positive cases was higher in HNs arisen in the context of HT, compared to HNs not associated with HT (30/30 or 100% vs 4/15 or 40%; p<0.001). HGF immunoreactivity was also detected in all extranodular tissues from HT specimens (30/30 or 100%), but we found some significant differences. In fact, while in HNs observed in the context of HT lesions HGF was expressed only in stromal cells, in the extranodular tissues from the same thyroid gland affected by HT it was also detected in the cytoplasm of the epithelial follicular cells. Furthermore, HTs showed a much higher HGF staining grade in the extranodular tissue compared to HNs. Finally, a clear positive correlation was observed in HT between the proportion of HGF expressing follicular cells and the grade of lymphoid aggregates of the thyroid gland. In conclusion, HGF is much more frequently and highly expressed in thyroid tissue with HT, compared to goiter. In HT glands HGF can be detected in both follicular thyroid cells and stromal cells, while in HNs, either from goiters or associated with HT, its expression is restricted only to the stromal cells.These data indicate that HGF may play a role in cell proliferation processes occurring in thyroid glands affected by HT, probably under the regulation of the lymphoid infiltrate.


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How to Cite
Ruggeri, R., Sciacchitano, S., Trimarchi, F., Barresi, G., & Trovato, M. (2009). Expression of hepatocyte growth factor in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with nodular lesions. European Journal of Histochemistry, 51(3), 193-198.

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