A total of 67 samples from normal and pathological thyroid glands were stained (as formalin fixed paraffin sections) with a panel of monoclonal antibodies directed against intermediate filament proteins. The study confirmed previous reports of cytokeratin and vimentin coexpression in primary thyroid carcinomas, but coexpression was also detected in normal thyroid and in a range of benign conditions including follicular adenomas, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and diffuse hyperplasia (thyrotoxicosis). Prekeratin expression was found (using antibodies recognising higher molecular weight cytokeratins) predominantly in areas of squamous change, independent of the underlying thyroid pathology. This study does not therefore support previous findings that prekeratin expression provides a reliable means of distinguishing follicular pattern papillary carcinoma from follicular carcinoma with its poorer prognosis or that it helps distinguish benign from malignant papillary lesions. No evidence of desmin or neurofilament expression was seen, and in particular, neurofilaments could not be detected in any of the cases of medullary carcinoma studied.
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