Expression of p63 in papillary thyroid carcinoma and in Hashimoto's thyroiditis: A pathobiologic link?

Pamela Unger, Michelle Ewart, Beverly Y. Wang, Li Gan, D. Stave Kohtz, David E. Burstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


p63 proteins are p53 homologs that are postulated to regulate squamous stem cell commitment. An immunohistochemical survey of p63 expression in normal thyroid and in reactive, neoplastic, and inflammatory thyroid disorders was performed. Sections from routinely fixed and processed archival thyroidectomy specimens were pretreated with citric acid, pH 6.0, for antigen retrieval, then incubated overnight with anti-p63 monoclonal antibody 4A4. Slides were stained using a streptavidin-biotin kit and diaminobenzidine as a chromagen, and then were counterstained with hematoxylin. The results showed that p63 expression was negative in normal thyroid tissue, nodular goiters, and oncocytic follicular adenomas. Positivity was rare and weak in follicular adenomas. p63-positive foci were commonly found in Hashimoto's thyroiditis (1 or more foci in 78.8% of cases), but rare in Graves' disease. Twenty-seven of 33 papillary thyroid carcinomas (81.8%) displayed p63-positive foci. Staining was uncommon in follicular carcinomas and rare in medullary carcinomas. One case of insular carcinoma was p63-positive. All squamoid structures were p63-positive; p63-positive structures morphologically consistent with solid cell nests were also identified. Based on the results of this study, we conclude that p63 is commonly expressed in papillary thyroid carcinoma and in Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Given the debated association of papillary thyroid carcinoma with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, it is possible that p63 expression may be a potential pathobiologic link between the two disorders. The finding of p63 in benign squamoid nests supports a possible interrelationship between these structures and both Hashimoto's thyroiditis and papillary carcinoma. The high percentage of papillary carcinomas with p63-positive foci appears to distinguish papillary carcinoma from other neoplasms originating in the thyroid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-769
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Papillary carcinoma
  • Squamous metaplasia
  • Thyroid neoplasia
  • p63


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