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Thyroid Nodular Pathology: From Molecular Research to Modern Therapeutic Perspective

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Endocrinology and Metabolism".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 1201

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Guest Editor
1. Division of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Madonna delle Grazie Hospital, 00049 Rome, Italy
2. GCS Point Medical Center, 0010 Rome, Italy
Interests: andrology; thyroid hormone; endothelium; regenerative medicine
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Thyroid nodules are a very common occurrence in the general population, more common in females than males. In most cases, thyroid nodules are benign; however, even if benign, they can grow and cause compressive symptoms and cosmetic concerns that might require treatment. Approximately 5% of thyroid nodules are malignant; the remainder are colloid nodules, cysts and thyroiditis (80%), and benign follicular neoplasms (10–15%). Across the world, surgical removal of half or the whole thyroid gland represents the standard treatment for symptomatic benign thyroid nodules. Fine-needle aspiration biopsies (FNA) represent the gold standard for excluding the malignant nature of thyroid nodules. After cytomorphology, 20–30% of cases are deemed “indeterminate for malignancy” and undergo surgery. However, after thyroidectomy, 70–80% of these nodules are benign. This category of nodule formation requires the study of different molecular tests pointing to abnormal molecular mechanisms of thyroid cancer; examples such as genetic testing (BRAF, N-H-KRAS point mutations, and RET/PTC1, RET/PTC3, PAX8/PPAR rearrangements) or gene-expression classifiers have been proposed to improve the preoperative risk assessment of malignancy in thyroid FNAs. These biomolecular markers and genetic intramolecular mutations have a variable performance, and more studies are needed; in addition, their cost means they are far from being everyday approaches.

Minimally invasive treatments for the thyroid, including radiofrequency ablation (RFA) (which is generally performed using monopolar electrodes during the procedure), laser ablation (LA), high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), and microwave ablation (MWA, have gained an increasing role in the management of symptomatic benign thyroid nodules, and in fact, all these treatments are included as therapeutic alternatives to surgical excision in several guidelines. However, despite the increasing evidence of the safety and efficacy of minimally invasive treatments for benign thyroid nodules, there are several variations in the application of the different available techniques among different countries. Recently, these techniques have also been under study for the treatment for thyroid microcinema, recurrence, and lymph node metastases, but data on these applications are still limited.

The aim of the present Special Issue is to identify and study how the biomolecular markers associated with nodular thyreopathy might represent the best approach in the common practice during FNAb and how those result might influence surgical approaches. Thus, it will hopefully reduce the necessity of this expensive surgical procedure in favor of a less invasive and expensive mini-invasive approach, as opposed to the cost of a more expensive but complete needle aspiration. In turn, this will help to identify the best procedures and follow-up for each type of nodular pathology, personalizing each treatment. The investigations we will focus our attention on are fundamentally cellular/molecular studies; papers only containing clinical trials/data are not acceptable.

Dr. Davide Francomano
Guest Editor

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  • biomolecular thyroid investigation
  • genetic test
  • thyroid cancer biomarker discovery
  • thyroid carcinoma
  • laser ablation
  • lymph nodes metastases
  • recurrence of thyroid nodular pathology

Published Papers (1 paper)

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13 pages, 1565 KiB  
Role of ST6GAL1 in Thyroid Cancers: Insights from Tissue Analysis and Genomic Datasets
by Ivana Gunjača, Benjamin Benzon, Nikolina Pleić, Mirjana Babić Leko, Valdi Pešutić Pisac, Ana Barić, Dean Kaličanin, Ante Punda, Ozren Polašek, Katarina Vukojević and Tatijana Zemunik
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(22), 16334; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms242216334 - 15 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 955
Thyroid cancer is the predominant endocrine-related malignancy. ST6 β-galactoside α2,6-sialyltransferase 1 (ST6GAL1) has been studied in various types of cancers; however, the expression and function of ST6GAL1 in thyroid cancer has not been investigated so far. Previously, we conducted two genome-wide association studies [...] Read more.
Thyroid cancer is the predominant endocrine-related malignancy. ST6 β-galactoside α2,6-sialyltransferase 1 (ST6GAL1) has been studied in various types of cancers; however, the expression and function of ST6GAL1 in thyroid cancer has not been investigated so far. Previously, we conducted two genome-wide association studies and have identified the association of the ST6GAL1 gene with plasma thyroglobulin (Tg) levels. Since Tg levels are altered in thyroid pathologies, in the current study, we wanted to evaluate the expression of ST6GAL1 in thyroid cancer tissues. We performed an immunohistochemical analysis using human thyroid tissue from 89 patients and analyzed ST6GAL1 protein expression in papillary thyroid cancer (including follicular variant and microcarcinoma) and follicular thyroid cancer in comparison to normal thyroid tissue. Additionally, ST6GAL1 mRNA levels from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA, n = 572) and the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project (n = 279) were examined. The immunohistochemical analysis revealed higher ST6GAL1 protein expression in all thyroid tumors compared to normal thyroid tissue. TCGA data revealed increased ST6GAL1 mRNA levels in both primary and metastatic tumors versus controls. Notably, the follicular variant of papillary thyroid cancer exhibited significantly higher ST6GAL1 mRNA levels than classic papillary thyroid cancer. High ST6GAL1 mRNA levels significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis status, clinical stage, and reduced survival rate. ST6GAL1 emerges as a potential cancer-associated glycosyltransferase in thyroid malignancies, offering valuable insights into its diagnostic and prognostic significance. Full article
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