Small-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the cervix. A human papillomavirus type 18-associated cancer

Am J Surg Pathol. 1991 Jan;15(1):28-32. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199101000-00003.


Small-cell undifferentiated carcinomas comprise a rare but aggressive subset of uterine cervical neoplasms. Analogous to small-cell anaplastic carcinoma of the lung, these tumors frequently exhibit neuroendocrine differentiation. Although human papillomaviruses (HPV) types 16 and 18 are strongly associated with the development of cervical squamous carcinoma, there is as yet little information describing the relationship of these viruses to small-cell carcinomas. To address this question, we analyzed 20 cases of small-cell carcinoma of the cervix using in situ hybridization to detect HPV gene expression. In addition, immunohistochemistry was used to evaluate three markers of neuroendocrine differentiation. Eighteen of 20 tumors (90%) demonstrated some evidence of neuroendocrine differentiation; 17 of 20 (85%) expressed HPV type 16 or 18 messenger RNA. Of the neuroendocrine-positive cases, 14 of 18 expressed HPV 18 messenger RNA. In contrast, both of the cases with squamous differentiation were HPV 16 positive. These findings broaden the spectrum of HPV-associated cervical neoplasia and strongly suggest that HPV 18 is a viral type specifically associated with cervical small-cell neuroendocrine carcinomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / ultrastructure
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Viral / genetics
  • Chromogranins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Synaptophysin
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / genetics
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Chromogranins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Synaptophysin
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase