Roles of trk family neurotrophin receptors in medullary thyroid carcinoma development and progression

Lisa M. Mcgregor, Bryan K. Mccune, Jeremy R. Graff, Philip R. Mcdowell, Katherine E. Romans, George D. Yancopoulos, Douglas W. Ball, Stephen B. Baylin, Barry D. Nelkin

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126 Scopus citations


Although initiating mutations in the ret protooncogene have been found in familial and sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), the molecular events underlying subsequent tumor progression stages are unknown. We now report that changes in irk family neurotrophin receptor expression appear to be involved in both preneoplastic thyroid C cell hyperplasia and later tumor progression. Only a subset of normal C cells expresses trk family receptors, but, in C cell hyperplasia, the affected cells consistently express trkB, with variable expression of trkA and trkC. In later stages of gross MTC tumors, trkB expression was substantially reduced, while trkC expression was increased and often intense. In a cell culture model of MTC, exogenous trkB expression resulted in severely impaired tumorigenicity and was associated with 11-fold lower levels of the angiogenesis factor vascular endothelial growth factor. These results suggest that trk family receptor genes participate in MTC development and progression, and, in particular, that trkB may limit MTC tumor growth by inhibition of angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4540-4545
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 13 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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