Galectin-3 Expression in Tumor Progression and Metastasis of Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma

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Galectin-3 plays important roles in cell adhesion, cell proliferation, apoptosis, neoplastic transformation, and metastasis. Galectin-3 expression has been evaluated in various malignant neoplasms to determine its effectiveness in differential diagnosis from benign lesions and its effects on carcinogenesis. There are few and somewhat controversial results regarding its changes through cancer progression in thyroid malignancies. We studied the presence of galectin-3 expression immunohistochemically and its relation with tumor invasiveness and lymph node metastasis in 89 cases of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid. Galectin overexpression was less frequent in cases with lymph node metastases compared with cases without lymph node metastasis (P′=′0.001). Metastatic foci in lymph nodes showed a lower degree of galectin-3 overexpression than their primary lesions (P′=′0.001). Degree of galectin-3 overexpression was also lower in larger tumors (P′=′0.009). Additionally, a decreased level of galectin-3 overexpression was observed at the invasive edges of the tumors (P′=′0.001). Galectin-3 overexpression is more profound in early stages of papillary carcinoma, and its expression intensity decreases during tumor progression. This finding is consistent with roles for galectin-3 in cell adhesion to other tumor cells and the matrix.

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