Peripheral neuroepithelioma: a light microscopic, immunocytochemical, and ultrastructural study

Mod Pathol. 1992 Jan;5(1):71-8.


Forty-two cases of peripheral neuroepithelioma (PN) retrieved from the files of the National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, MD) and the Pathology Department of Padua University, Italy, were reviewed. No sex predilection was observed (25M/17F) and ages ranged from 7 to 54 yr (median 22 yr). Roughly a third of the tumors were thoracopulmonary ("Askin tumor"), a third were axial, and a third were in extremities. A lobular pattern with rosettes or pseudo-rosettes characterized PN. Seventeen cases showed a strong diastase-sensitive PAS positivity. Transitional areas with an Ewing's-like appearance and, in one case, transition to malignant nerve sheath tumor have been documented. The presence of neuron specific enolase (NSE), S-100 protein, HNK-1, neurofilaments, vimentin, keratin (AE1-AE3), beta 2-microglobulin, chromogranin A, and synaptophysin was investigated using the avidin-biotin technique. Immunocytochemically, NSE (95% of cases), beta 2-microglobulin (77.5%), synaptophysin (73.3%), and S-100 protein (67.5%) were the most consistently positive markers. Ultrastructurally, PN is characterized by a primitive appearance, although it was routinely possible to recognize neural features such as primitive neuritic extensions and dense core granules, either in the cytoplasm or in the cellular processes. In our experience, a light microscopic picture of a primitive round cell tumor with a lobular pattern, and particularly with rosettes when present, with NSE and beta 2-microglobulin positivity by immunocytochemistry, ideally with positive synaptophysin, along with supportive electron microscopy, is required for the diagnosis of PN. Conversely, no one feature alone is generally sufficient for diagnosis, but does allow distinction from extraosseous Ewing's, which (like osseous Ewing's) lacks features of neural differentiation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromogranin A
  • Chromogranins / analysis
  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Desmin / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratins / analysis
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroectodermal Tumors, Primitive, Peripheral / chemistry
  • Neuroectodermal Tumors, Primitive, Peripheral / pathology*
  • Neuroectodermal Tumors, Primitive, Peripheral / ultrastructure
  • Peripheral Nervous System Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Peripheral Nervous System Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / analysis
  • S100 Proteins / analysis
  • Vimentin / analysis
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / analysis


  • Chromogranin A
  • Chromogranins
  • Desmin
  • S100 Proteins
  • Vimentin
  • beta 2-Microglobulin
  • Keratins
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase