Background: Prognosis among patients with differentiated thyroid cancer is widely variable. Better understanding of biologic subtypes is necessary to stratify patients and improve outcomes. Methods: In patients diagnosed with classic histology papillary thyroid cancer treated from 1973 to 2009, BRAF V600E mutation status was determined on surgical tumor specimens by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. A tissue microarray (TMA) was constructed from tumor specimens in triplicate and stained by immunohistochemistry for RET, phospho-MEK, MAPK(dpERK), PPARγ, and phospho-AKT(pAKT). Stained slides were scored independently and blindly by two investigators and compared to tumor and patient characteristics and outcomes. Results: A total of 231 patients had archived formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue available and were included on the TMA. Mean age at diagnosis was 44 years (range 6-82 years); proportion of patients with female sex was (72%); 2015 American Thyroid Association (ATA) risk stratification was low (26%), intermediate (32%), and high (42%). BRAF V600E mutation was found in 74% of specimens, and IHC was scored as positive for RET (61%), MAPK (dpERK) (14%), PPARγ (27%), and pAKT (39%). Positive RET staining was associated with a lower risk of recurrence (HR = 0.46, 95% CI 0.22-0.96). No other molecular biomarkers were independent predictors of recurrence on univariable analysis. On RPA, patients with RET-negative and either MAPK(dpERK)-positive or pAKT-positive tumors were identified to have a high risk of recurrence (HR = 5.4, 95%CI 2.5-11.7). This profile remained associated with recurrence in a multivariable model including ATA risk stratification (HR = 2.8, 95% CI 1.3-6.0). Conclusion: Characterization of molecular pathways involved in cPTC tumorigenesis may add further risk stratification for recurrence beyond the 2015 ATA risk categories alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-446
Number of pages10
JournalCancer medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • AKT
  • BRAF
  • MAPK
  • MEK
  • PPAR
  • RET
  • thyroid cancer
  • tissue array analysis


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