Novel markers for enterochromaffin cells and gastrointestinal neuroendocrine carcinomas

Mod Pathol. 2009 Feb;22(2):261-72. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2008.174. Epub 2008 Oct 24.


The gene expression profile of metastasizing serotonin-producing neuroendocrine carcinomas, which arise from enterochromaffin cells in the jejunum and ileum, is still largely unknown. The aim of this study was to identify genes and proteins, which are preferentially expressed by neuroendocrine carcinoma and enterochromaffin cells and therefore potential novel biomarkers and/or therapeutic targets. Six carcinoma specimens and six normal ileal mucosas were profiled by Affymetrix microarrays. Advanced bioinformatics identified differentially and specifically expressed genes, which were validated by quantitative real-time-PCR on tumor cells extracted by laser capture microdissection and normal enterochromaffin cells extracted by immunolaser capture microdissection. We identified six novel marker genes for neuroendocrine carcinoma cells: paraneoplastic antigen Ma2 (PNMA2), testican-1 precursor (SPOCK1), serpin A10 (SERPINA10), glutamate receptor ionotropic AMPA 2 (GRIA2), G protein-coupled receptor 112 (GPR112) and olfactory receptor family 51 subfamily E member 1 (OR51E1). GRIA2 is specifically expressed by neuroendocrine carcinoma cells whereas the others are also expressed by normal enterochromaffin cells. GPR112 and OR51E1 encode proteins associated with the plasma membrane and may therefore become targets for antibody-based diagnosis and therapy. Hierarchical clustering shows high similarity between primary lesions and liver metastases. However, chemokine C-X-C motif ligand 14 (CXCL14) and NK2 transcription factor related locus 3 Drosophila (NKX2-3) are expressed to a lower level in liver metastases than in primary tumors and normal enterochromaffin cells, which implies a role in neuroendocrine carcinoma differentiation. In conclusion, this study provides a list of genes, which possess relatively specific expression to enterochromaffin and neuroendocrine carcinoma cells and genes with differential expression between primary tumors and metastases. We verified six novel marker genes that may be developed as biomarkers and/or therapeutic targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / pathology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Enterochromaffin Cells / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Ileal Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Ileal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ileal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ileum / chemistry*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / chemistry
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Male
  • Microdissection
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Mesothelial / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Mesothelial / secondary
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • RNA, Messenger