While incretins are of great interest for the therapy of diabetes 2, the focus has recently been brought to the thyroid, since rodents treated with glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogs were found to occasionally develop medullary thyroid carcinomas. Incretin receptors for GLP-1 and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) were therefore measured in various rodent and human thyroid conditions. In vitroGLP-1 and GIP receptor autoradiography were performed in normal thyroids, C-cell hyperplasia and medullary thyroid carcinomas in rodents. Receptor incidence and density were assessed and compared with the receptor expression in human thyroids, medullary thyroid carcinomas, and TT cells. GLP-1 receptors are expressed in C cells of normal rat and mice thyroids. Their density is markedly increased in rat C-cell hyperplasia and medullary thyroid carcinomas, where their incidence amounts to 100%. GIP receptors are neither detected in normal rodent thyroids nor in C-cell hyperplasia, but are present in all rat medullary thyroid carcinomas. No GLP-1 or GIP receptors are detected in normal human thyroids. Whereas only 27% of all human medullary thyroid carcinomas express GLP-1 receptors, up to 89% express GIP receptors in a high density. TT cells lack GLP-1 receptors but express GIP receptors. GLP-1 receptors are frequently expressed in non-neoplastic and neoplastic C cells in rodents while they are rarely detected in human C-cell neoplasia, suggesting species differences. Conversely, GIP receptors appear to be massively overexpressed in neoplastic C cells in both species. The presence of incretin receptors in thyroid C cell lesions suggests that this organ should be monitored before and during incretin-based therapy of diabetes.

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