Lymphatic endothelial cancerization in papillary thyroid carcinoma: Hidden evidence of lymphatic invasion
We hypothesize that cystic structures in metastatic papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) develop along the framework of lymphatic channels. To investigate this phenomenon, different categories of PTC were immunostained for D2-40 and TTF1. In this study, reactivity for D2-40 was considered as positive when there is membranous staining as often seen in lymphatic endothelial cells. Thirty cases of PTC with lymph node metastasis or with potential for lymphatic invasion and 20 cases metastatic PTC in lymph nodes were reviewed and found to show double/mosaic immunoreactivity for TTF1/D2-40 in 40-100% of cases. PTC metastasis in lymph nodes with cysts and some branching lymphatic-like channels lined by follicular cells with or without nuclear features of PTC were diffusely reactive to TTF1, and focally to D2-40. For primary and metastatic PTC, focal membranous D2-40 reactivity was also demonstrated in cysts or cleft linings. For25 thyroid neoplasms with no known potential for lymphatic invasion, there was no such immunoreactivity. The mosaic or double immunoreactivity for TTF1/D2-40 suggests lymphatic cancerization and possible endothelial mimicry of follicular cells. Mosaic/double immunoreactivity is helpful to detect the hidden pattern of lymphatic invasion masquerading as 'benign-appearing' follicles and supports our hypothesis of malignant cells developing along the lymphatic framework.