Evidence of a low prevalence of RAS mutations in a large medullary thyroid cancer series

Raffaele Ciampi, Caterina Mian, Laura Fugazzola, Barbara Cosci, Cristina Romei, Susi Barollo, Valentina Cirello, Valeria Bottici, Giulia Marconcini, Pelizzo Maria Rosa, Maria Grazia Borrello, Fulvio Basolo, Clara Ugolini, Gabriele Materazzi, Aldo Pinchera, Rossella Elisei
Thyroid: Official Journal of the American Thyroid Association 2013, 23 (1): 50-7

BACKGROUND: Approximately 60% of sporadic medullary thyroid carcinomas (sMTC) remain orphan of a recognized genetic cause. Recently, a high percentage of RAS point mutations have been described in RET-negative sMTC. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of RAS point mutations in a large series of MTC collected in four Italian centers.

METHODS: For this purpose, we studied codons 12, 13, and 61 of H-, K-, and N-RAS genes in 188 MTC samples, either hereditary or sporadic, by direct sequencing. Correlations between the RAS mutational status and the clinical-pathological features of MTC patients as well as a meta-analysis of all published data were performed.

RESULTS: The prevalence of RAS mutations in the present series of MTC was 10.1%, and 17.6% when considering only RET-negative cases. RAS mutations were found in MTC tumoral tissue, but not in peripheral blood indicating their somatic origin. A novel mutation in codon 72 (M72I) was found, but with a low or null transforming potential. No association was found between the presence of RAS mutations and the clinical-pathological features of the patients. Although not statistically significant, a positive association between the presence of RAS mutations and a better outcome was observed. The meta-analysis of all published studies confirmed a prevalence of 8.8% for RAS mutations in MTC.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of RAS mutations in our MTC series was relatively low and consistent with the meta-analysis data. Only somatic RAS mutations were found and only in RET-negative sMTC. Likewise, MTCs that harbor a RAS mutation identify a subgroup of tumors with less aggressive behavior. To our knowledge, this is the largest series of MTCs studied for the presence of mutations in RAS genes and the first meta-analysis on this specific topic.

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