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Morphological demonstration and quantification of TSH binding sites in neoplastic and non-neoplastic thyroid tissues

An autoradiographic study using125I-labelled thyrotropin


We have developed a morphological method to portray TSH binding sites in intact tissue specimens. Frozen sections were incubated with125I-labelled TSH so as to localise binding sites by autoradiography. The proof of specificity was substantiated by: the competitive inhibition of125I-TSH-labelling with cold TSH, the lack of binding in non-target tissues and a lack of binding in TSH target tissues after incubation with125I-hCG or free125I.

In applying this method to a total of 22 surgical specimens of thyroid, striking differences came to light in respect of the degree to which125I-TSH binding occurred in the various thyroid disorders. When compared with histologically normal tissue, labelling was generally decreased in toxic adenomas, non-functioning adenomas (cold nodules), and thyroids affected by Graves' disease, whereas non-toxic colloid goitre cases clearly exhibited denser binding. Medullary and anaplastic carcinomas exhibited no specific labelling whilst binding varied in the differentiated carcinomas between no effective binding or a level resembling that found in normal thyroid tissue.

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Correspondence to Sören Schröder.

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Schröder, S., Müller-Gärtner, H., Schroiff, R. et al. Morphological demonstration and quantification of TSH binding sites in neoplastic and non-neoplastic thyroid tissues. Vichows Archiv A Pathol Anat 409, 555–570 (1986).

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Key words

  • Human thyroid
  • TSH receptor
  • 125I-TSH
  • Autoradiography
  • TSH binding sites