Detection of thyrotropin-receptor messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and thyroglobulin mRNA transcripts in peripheral blood of patients with thyroid disease: Sensitive and specific markers for thyroid cancer

Priya Chinnappa, Leslie Taguba, Rosemarie Arciaga, Charles Faiman, Allan Siperstein, Adi E. Mehta, Sethu K. Reddy, Christian Nasr, Manjula K. Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Because thyroid cancer cells express functional TSH receptors (TSHR), TSHR-mRNA in peripheral blood might serve as a tissue-/cancer-specific marker. We measured circulating TSHR-mRNA by RT-PCR in 51 normal controls, 27 patients with benign thyroid disease, 67 patients with treated differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC), and eight patients with newly diagnosed DTC, preoperatively. Results were compared with thyroglobulin (Tg) mRNA and serum Tg levels. TSHR-mRNA signals were not detected in normal controls and in 24 of 27 (89%) patients with benign thyroid disease. All 19 patients with treated DTC with evidence of distant or local disease tested positive for TSHR-mRNA (sensitivity 100%). Among patients with no evidence of disease, TSHR-mRNA was detected in 1 in 48 (specificity 98%). Six of the eight newly diagnosed DTC patients tested preoperatively were positive for TSHR-mRNA. The concordance between TSHR-mRNA and Tg-mRNA and between TSHR-mRNA and serum Tg was 95%. Fourteen patients with DTC (21%) had Tg antibodies, three with local disease (all positive for TSHR-mRNA), and 11 with no evidence of disease (all negative for TSHR-mRNA). Our results indicate that TSHR-mRNA and/or Tg-mRNA in peripheral blood are both equally sensitive and specific markers for monitoring thyroid cancer patients. Their principal value resides in the Tg antibody-positive patients in whom a positive or a negative mRNA value might have indicated or obviated the need for a whole-body scan. Furthermore, the high specificity combined with their ability to predict thyroid cancer preoperatively suggests a potential role in detecting thyroid cancer in patients with thyroid nodules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3705-3709
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume89
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2004

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