Background: Congenital goiter is a common thyroid metabolic disorder characterized by low levels of thyroid hormone, subsequent secretion of excess thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland, and compensatory hyperplasia of the glands. The presence of signet ring cells (SRCs) does not provide sufficient evidence for the diagnosis of a thyroid tumor, making histopathological diagnosis challenging. In addition, SRCs can also appear in congenital goiter. Therefore, a comprehensive diagnosis of congenital goiter is warranted based on clinical symptoms, autopsy, histopathology, and laboratory examination.
Case presentation: A juvenile giraffe at the Ordos Zoo in Ordos presented with symptoms of loss of appetite, serious salivation, and slow growth rate since birth. Its height and weight were significantly lower than those of other giraffes of the same age. The animal ultimately died at 17 months of age. Autopsy revelaed that the thyroids were hard, with an uneven surface and with the presence of many small raised follicles, and dense in cross-section. Other organs were visibly atrophic. Histopathologically, diffuse follicles were irregular in size and shape in the hyperplastic goiter. Some follicles were collapsed due to lack of colloids. The follicles were lined by single or multiple layers of hyperplastic follicular cells (HFCs), some of which were exfoliated in the lumen. The HFCs were either cuboidal with eosinophilic cytoplasm and many red small granules or showed SRC differentiation, with nuclei pressed to one edge of the cell and distorted by cytoplasmic mucin that appeared as a single clear vacuole HFCs and as a foamy, multivesicular cytoplasmic material in others. Scattered necrosis of myocardial cells and hepatocytes, cerebral hemorrhage, necrosis of intestinal villi, and obvious atrophy of organs were also observed. Immunohistochemical tests were strongly positive for thyroglobulin and thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1) in the cytoplasm of HFCs.
Conclusions: Here we present a case of congenital goiter with areas of SRC differentiation in the thyroid of a juvenile giraffe.