NYMC Faculty Publications

Noncoding RNAs in Papillary Thyroid Cancer: Interaction with Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts (CAFs) in the Tumor Microenvironment (TME) and Regulators of Differentiation and Lymph Node Metastasis

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Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

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Second Department

Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology


A large majority of all thyroid cancers are papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC), named for the specific papillary architecture observed histologically. Despite the high rate of success with modern diagnostic and therapeutic algorithms, there are significant areas where the management of PTC can be improved. Aggressive PTC subtypes that are refractory to radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy carry a more severe prognosis and account for most of PTC-related deaths. As lymph node metastasis is present in roughly 40% of all adult PTC cases, higher specificity in these tests is a clinical need, especially since lymph node metastases are associated with reduced survival and higher recurrence rates. Additionally, this cancer can progress to more dedifferentiated and aggressive variants, such as poorly differentiated papillary thyroid cancer (PDPTC) and anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC). Therefore, development of more sensitive and specific detection methods that allow unnecessary surgeries to be avoided is of the utmost importance. The body of large-scale, unbiased gene expression analysis in PTC has focused on the coding transcriptome, specifically mRNAs and microRNAs. However, there have been implications for the potential use of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in PTC diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment via the utilization of genome-wide studies of patient samples. lncRNAs have diverse regulatory potential in gene expression, alternative splicing, posttranscriptional mRNA modification, and epigenomic alterations. Many lncRNAs have tissue-specific expression and are demonstrated to play key roles in cancer progression and prognosis. However, lncRNAs are not being exploited as biomarkers or therapeutic targets currently, despite their elucidated effects on oncogenesis. These potent biomarkers would be revolutionary in detection at early stages, as this significantly increases the chances of survival. Their aberrant expression in cancer and correlation with steps in tumorigenesis as well as their role in differentiation would allow for a promising role as a prognostic and diagnostic biomarker in thyroid cancer. This would help prevent the more aggressive ATC that derives from dedifferentiation of the less aggressive PTC and FTC. The targeting of the specific lncRNAs could also pose a valuable treatment option via preventing or reversing this dedifferentiation process and making this usually refractory form of thyroid cancer more responsive to standard treatment options.