Oncology letters 2017 09 2614(6) 6485-6496 doi 10.3892/ol.2017.7072
Despite considerable advances in the understanding of thyroid gland biology, correctly diagnosing thyroid nodules and treating high-grade thyroid carcinoma remains challenging. Cancer/testis (CT) antigens have emerged as potential diagnostic tools as well as targets of potential cancer vaccinations. In the present study, a total of 117 patients who underwent surgical therapy for thyroid disease were available for analysis. The expression levels of melanoma-associated antigen (MAGE) A, MAGE-C1/CT7, cancer/testis antigen 1B (CTAG1B) and G antigen (GAGE) were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. None of the CT antigens were expressed in the normal thyroid or goiter. In papillary and follicular carcinoma, MAGE-A was present in 8.1% of cases, GAGE in 10.8% and CT/7MAGE-C1 and CTAG1B in 2.7% each. In medullary carcinoma, CT antigen expression was as follows: MAGE-A in 42.9% of patients; MAGE-C1/CT7 in 46.5%; GAGE in 92.9%; and CTAG1B in 3.6%. A statistically significant association was observed between the expression of G MAGE-C1/CT7 and patient gender as well as patient clinical stage (P=0.029 and 0.031, respectively). In poorly differentiated and anaplastic carcinoma cases, CT antigen expression was as follows: MAGE-A in 61.8% of cases; MAGE-C1 in 57.1%; GAGE in 66.7%; and CTAG1B in 14.4%. There was a statistically significant association between expression of GAGE and gender (P=0.043). However, there was no association between CT antigen expression and patient survival in any of the tumor entities analyzed. The current study identified a distinct expression pattern of CT antigens in malignant thyroid tumors indicating that CT antigens have the potential to outperform existing thyroid cancer biomarkers. The prevalence of CT antigens in high-grade carcinomas suggests that they serve an important biological role within malignant tumors.