Clinical and histopathological tumour progression in ECL cell carcinoids ("ECLomas")

APMIS. 1999 Dec;107(12):1085-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1699-0463.1999.tb01513.x.


Aims: The aims of this study were to illustrate the malignant potential of gastric enterochromaffin-like (ECL) cell carcinoids (ECLomas) associated with hypergastrinemia, and the gradual neoplastic progression of such tumours. In addition, we examined whether the tyramide signal amplification (TSA) technique could visualize immunohistochemical (IHC) neuroendocrine (NE) features in the dedifferentiated neoplastic ECL cells which were not detected by conventional methods.

Methods: Conventional histopathological and IHC methods for visualizing ECL cells and cell proliferation were used in addition to the TSA technique.

Observations: Our patient was followed for 5 years. During that period, her ECLoma displayed all the signs of classical tumour progression, ultimately with the appearance of metastases in the regional lymph nodes, the liver and the skin. The neoplastic ECL cells became progressively dedifferentiated with an increasing number of Ki-67 immunoreactive (IR) cell nuclei. In addition, there was a substantial decrease in argyrophil and IR NE cells that could be visualized by conventional methods. By applying the TSA technique, however, the number of IR tumour cells increased considerably.

Conclusions: ECLomas secondary to hypergastrinemia should be closely followed for signs of clinical and histopathological tumour progression. Such ECLomas deserve early, active, radical surgical treatment. The TSA technique is a valuable tool for visualizing the characteristic IHC features in dedifferentiated NE cells.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoid Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoid Tumor / pathology*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / secondary
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromogranin A
  • Chromogranins / metabolism
  • Enterochromaffin Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastrins / blood
  • Gastritis, Atrophic / complications
  • Histidine Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms / etiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Chromogranin A
  • Chromogranins
  • Gastrins
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Serotonin
  • Histidine Decarboxylase