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thyroid oncocytic cells

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Hurthle cell; Hürthle cell; oncocytic cells in the thyroid gland

Definition: In the thyroid gland, oncocytic change is highly characteristic on conventional haematoxylin and eosin staining.

Morphologically, Hürthle cells are characterised by large size, polygonal to square shape, distinct cell borders, voluminous granular and eosinophilic cytoplasm, and a large, often hyperchromatic nucleus with prominent “cherry pink” macronucleoli.

Oncocytic follicular cells in the thyroid, known as Hürthle cells, are characterised by large size, polygonal to square shape, distinct cell borders, voluminous granular and eosinophilic cytoplasm, and a large, often hyperchromatic nucleus with prominent “cherry pink” macronucleoli.

With the Papanicolau stain, the cytoplasm may be orange, green, or blue.

By electron microscopy, the cytoplasmic granularity is produced by large mitochondria filling the cell, consistent with oncocytic transformation.

The diagnosis of an oncocytic tumour is not usually difficult because of these distinctive features, but in borderline or dubious circumstances, mitochondrial markers can be used, including the antimitochondrial antibody.

Digital cases

- JRC:2665 : Follicular carcinoma (with focal Hurthle cell features), minimally invasive type in a 78 y/o male.

Pathology

- Hurthle cell metaplasia

- Hurthle cell tumors

See also

- oncocytic cells / oncocytic cell

- thyroid gland