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Stage-Specific Embryonic Antigen-1 (SSEA-1) Expression in Thyroid Tissues.

Stage-specific embryonic antigen-1 (SSEA-1), also known as CD15, is a member of a cluster of differentiation antigens that have been identified in various normal tissues and in different types of cancers including papillary and medullary thyroid carcinoma. SSEA-1 may be expressed in normal stem cells and cancer stem-like cells. To evaluate the potential diagnostic and prognostic utility of SSEA-1 in thyroid tumors, we analyzed the expression of SSEA-1 in normal and neoplastic thyroid tissues by immunohistochemistry (IHC) using a tissue microarray with 158 different tissue cores. To evaluate the potential utility of SSEA-1 as a surface marker, we also assessed the expression of SSEA-1 in thyroid cell lines by flow cytometric analysis. SSEA-1 immunoreactivity was identified in malignant thyroid follicular epithelial cancers but not in the benign thyroid tissues. Anaplastic thyroid (ATC) (80 %) and conventional papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) (60.7 %) showed significantly higher percentage of cases that were SSEA-1 immunoreactive than follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (FVPTC) (20.6 %) and follicular carcinoma (FCA) (32.1 %). Flow cytometric analysis of cultured thyroid cell lines showed that a small subpopulation of ATC and PTC thyroid tumor cells had SSEA-1 immunoreactivity which may represent thyroid cancer stem-like cells. The ATC cells expressed more SSEA-1 immunoreactive cells than the PTC cell lines. Our findings suggest that expression of SSEA-1 immunoreactivity in thyroid neoplasms was associated with more aggressive thyroid carcinomas. SSEA-1 is a marker that detects malignant thyroid neoplasms in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded thyroid tissue sections and may be a useful marker for thyroid cancer stem-like cells.

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