Increasing evidence shows that chronic inflammation plays an important role in thyroid tumorigenesis. Cytokines as central mediators in inflammatory microenvironment can present both protumor and antitumor effects and cytokine release may be influenced by soluble HLA-G (sHLA-G), an immune checkpoint molecule whose expression can also be induced by certain cytokines.
To understand the role of these soluble factors in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC).
We evaluated plasma levels of sHLA-G and of 13 cytokines using ELISA and flow cytometry, respectively, in PTC patients at two time points: pre- and post-thyroidectomy; and control subjects.
Compared to controls, IL-6 levels were increased, while IL-1β, IFN-α and TGF-β1 levels were decreased in pre-thyroidectomy PTC patients. IFN-α and TGF-β1 efficiently discriminated patients from controls and were associated with extrathyroidal extension and lymph node metastasis, respectively. In addition, TNF and IL-13 were associated with male gender, lymph node metastasis and Hashimoto thyroiditis, and sHLA-G with tumor invasion. Compared to pre-thyroidectomy, IL-4, IL-10, TNF, IFN-α and TGF-β1 levels were increased in post-thyroidectomy.
There are significant changes in the cytokine profile after surgical removal of the thyroid tumor, and IFN-α e TGF-β1 showed to be promising cytokines for discriminating PTC patients from controls. We also found that different cytokines are associated with clinicohistopathological characteristics of PTC related to poor prognosis, suggesting that cytokines seem to play an important role in PTC development and management.

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