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Thyroid cancer is a common endocrine gland malignancy which exhibited rapid increased incidence worldwide in recent decades. This study was aimed to investigate the role of long noncoding RNA H19 in thyroid cancer. Long noncoding RNA H19 was overexpressed or knockdown in thyroid cancer cells SW579 and TPC-1, and the expression of long noncoding RNA H19 was detected by real-time polymerase chain reaction. The cell viability, migration, and invasion were determined by 3-(4, 5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2, 5-diphenyl-2-H-tetrazolium bromide assay, Transwell assay, and wound healing assay, respectively. Furthermore, cell apoptosis was analyzed by flow cytometry, and expressions of some factors that were related to phosphatidyl inositide 3-kinases/protein kinase B and nuclear factor κB signal pathway were measured by Western blotting. This study revealed that cell viability and migration/invasion of SW579 and TPC-1 were significantly decreased by long noncoding RNA H19 overexpression compared with the control group (P < .05), whereas cell apoptosis was statistically increased (P < .001). Meanwhile, cell viability and migration/invasion were significantly increased after long noncoding RNA H19 knockdown (P < .05). Furthermore, long noncoding RNA H19 negatively regulated the expression of insulin receptor substrate 1 and thus effect on cell proliferation and apoptosis. Insulin receptor substrate 1 regulated the activation of phosphatidyl inositide 3-kinases/AKT and nuclear factor κB signal pathways. In conclusion, long noncoding RNA H19 could suppress cell viability, migration, and invasion via downregulation of insulin receptor substrate 1 in SW579 and TPC-1 cells. These results suggested the important role of long noncoding RNA H19 in thyroid cancer, and long noncoding RNA H19 might be a potential target of thyroid cancer treatment.