BACKGROUND. Molecular characterization in pediatric papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), distinct from adult PTC, is important for developing molecular targeted therapies for progressive 131I-refractory PTC. METHODS. PTC samples from 106 pediatric patients (age: 4.3–19.8 years; 21 boys) who attended Seoul National University Hospital (January 1983–March 2020) were available for genomic profiling. Previous transcriptome data from 125 adult PTCs were used for comparison. RESULTS. Genetic drivers were found in 80 tumors; 31 with fusion oncogenes (RET in 21, ALK in 6, and NTRK1/3 in 4), 47 with point mutations (BRAFV600E in 41, TERTC228T in 2, and DICER1 variants in 5), and 2 with amplifications. Fusion-oncogene PTCs, predominantly detected in younger patients, presented with a more advanced stage and showed more recurrent or persistent disease than BRAFV600E PTCs, which were detected mostly in adolescents. Pediatric fusion PTCs (in those aged < 10 years) showed lower expression of thyroid differentiation genes, including SLC5A5, than adult fusion PTCs. Two girls with progressive 131I-refractory lung metastases harboring a TPR-NTRK1 or CCDC6-RET fusion received fusion-targeted therapy; larotrectinib and selpercatinib decreased the tumor extent and restored radioiodine uptake. The girl with the CCDC6-RET fusion received 131I therapy combined with selpercatinib, leading to a tumor response. In vitro 125I uptake and 131I clonogenic assays showed that larotrectinib inhibited growth and restored radioiodine avidity. CONCLUSIONS. In pediatric fusion-oncogene PTC cases with 131I-refractory advanced disease, selective fusion-directed therapy may restore radioiodine avidity and lead to a dramatic tumor response, underscoring the importance of molecular testing in pediatric PTC patients. FUNDING. The Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (grant number NRF-2016R1A2B4012417 91 and 2019R1A2C2084332), the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number 92 H14C1277), the Ministry of Education (grant number 2020R1A6A1A03047972), and the Seoul 93 National University Hospital Research Fund (grant number 04-2015-0830).
Young Ah Lee, Hyunjung Lee, Sun-Wha Im, Young Shin Song, Do-Youn Oh, Hyoung Jin Kang, Jae-Kyung Won, Kyeong Cheon Jung, Dohee Kwon, Eun-Jae Chung, J. Hun Hah, Jin Chul Paeng, Ji-hoon Kim, Jaeyong Choi, Ok-Hee Kim, Ji Min Oh, Byeong-Cheol Ahn, Lori J. Wirth, Choong Ho Shin, Jong-Il Kim, Young Joo Park