ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe determinants of response or resistance to radioiodine (RAI) are unknown. We aimed to identify genomic and transcriptomic factors associated with structural responses to RAI treatment of metastatic thyroid cancer, which occur infrequently, and to test whether high MAPK pathway output was associated with RAI refractoriness.
Exceptional response to RAI was defined as reduction of tumor volume based on RECIST v1.1. We performed a retrospective case–control study of genomic and transcriptomic characteristics of exceptional responders (ER; n = 8) versus nonresponders (NR; n = 16) matched by histologic type and stage at presentation on a 1:2 ratio.
ER are enriched for mutations that activate MAPK through RAF dimerization (RAS, class 2 BRAF, RTK fusions), whereas NR are associated with BRAFV600E, which signals as a monomer and is unresponsive to negative feedback. ER have a lower MAPK transcriptional output and a higher thyroid differentiation score (TDS) than NR (P < 0.05). NR are enriched for 1q-gain (P < 0.05) and mutations of genes regulating mRNA splicing and the PI3K pathway. BRAFV600E tumors with 1q-gain have a lower TDS than BRAFV600E/1q-quiet tumors and transcriptomic signatures associated with metastatic propensity.
ER tumors have a lower MAPK output and higher TDS than NR, whereas NR have a high frequency of BRAFV600E and 1q-gain. Molecular profiling of thyroid cancers and further functional validation of the key findings discriminating ER from NR may help predict response to RAI therapy.