• papillary carcinoma;
  • thyroid tumours;
  • Met;
  • HGF;
  • invasiveness


The present study has investigated the functional role of the Met receptor in primary cultures of 20 papillary carcinomas and of normal thyroid cells obtained from the same patients. Normal and tumour cells grew as adherent cells, formed a confluent monolayer after 10–20 days, had epithelial morphology, and were immunoreactive for cytokeratin, vimentin, and thyroglobulin. The potential effect of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) on cell invasiveness was investigated in Boyden chambers, using a nucleopore filter coated with Matrigel as the barrier and HGF as the chemoattractant. Tumour cells of five out of seven cases of papillary carcinoma were more responsive to HGF than the corresponding normal cells in terms of the number of migrated cells per mm2. Involvement of the Met receptor in the HGF-induced migratory response was suggested by the observation that the agonistic anti-Met monoclonal antibody (MAb) DO-24 was equally effective. HGF did not affect the proliferative activity of thyroid cells. Under the same experimental conditions, 10 per cent fetal bovine serum (FBS) induced a two-fold increase in [3H]thymidine incorporation into normal cells and tumour cells. These findings are consistent with the possibility that HGF plays a crucial role in determining the invasiveness of tumour cells in papillary carcinoma of the thyroid. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.