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Analysis of BRAFV600E mutation and DNA methylation improves the diagnostics of thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsies

Bingfei Zhang, Shu Liu, Zhaoxia Zhang, Jing Wei, Yiping Qu, Kexia Wu, Qi Yang, Peng Hou* and Bingyin Shi*

Author Affiliations

Department of Endocrinology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Xi’an 710061, P. R. China

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Diagnostic Pathology 2014, 9:45  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-9-45

Published: 3 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Thyroid nodules with indeterminate cytological features on fine needle aspiration biopsy specimens (FNABs) have a ~20% risk of thyroid cancer. BRAFV600E mutation and DNA methylation are useful markers to distinguish malignant thyroid neoplasm from benign. The aim of this study was to determine whether combined detection of BRAFV600E mutation and methylation markers on FNABs could improve the diagnostic accuracy of thyroid cancer.

Methods

Using pyrosequencing and quantitative methylation-specific PCR (Q-MSP) methods, FNABs from 79 and 38 patients with thyroid nodules in training and test groups, respectively, were analyzed for BRAFV600E mutation and gene methylation.

Results

BRAFV600E mutation was found in 30/42 (71.4%) and 14/20 (70%) FNABs in training and test groups, respectively. All BRAFV600E-positive samples were histologically diagnosed as papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) after thyroidectomy. As expected, BRAF mutation was not found in all benign nodules. Moreover, we demonstrated that the five genes, including CALCA, DAPK1, TIMP3, RAR-beta and RASSF1A, were aberrantly methylated in FNABs. Of them, methylation level of DAPK1 in PTCs was significantly higher than that in benign samples (P <0.0001). Conversely, methylation level of RASSF1A in PTCs was significantly lower than that in benign samples (P =0.003). Notably, compared with BRAF mutation testing alone, combined detection of BRAF mutation and methylation markers increased the diagnostic sensitivity and accuracy of PTC with excellent specificity.

Conclusion

Our data have demonstrated that combine analysis of BRAF mutation and DNA methylation markers on FNABs may be a useful strategy to facilitate the diagnosis of malignant thyroid neoplasm, particularly PTC.

Virtual slides

The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here: http://www.diagnosticpathology.diagnomx.eu/vs/6080878071149177 webcite.

Keywords:
BRAFV600E mutation; DNA methylation; Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB); Thyroid nodules; Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC)