Somatostatin and dopamine receptor expression in neuroendocrine neoplasms: correlation of immunohistochemical findings with somatostatin receptor scintigraphy visual scores

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2015 Sep;83(3):420-8. doi: 10.1111/cen.12775. Epub 2015 Apr 24.


Context: The expression of somatostatin (sstr1-5) and dopamine (DR) receptors in neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) facilitates diagnosis by tumour visualization with somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SRS) and directs towards specific treatment with peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) with radiolabelled somatostatin analogues.

Objective: To investigate the co-expression of sstrs, D2R in relation to pre-operative SRSs in NENs.

Design: Prospective two-centre study.

Patients and measurements: We analysed pre-operative SRS of 60 patients [44 with gastrointestinal (GI) NENs and 16 with lung NENs] and compared SRS results with immunohistochemical (IHC) reactivity for sstr2, sstr3, sstr5 in sample tissues from primary (n = 54) and metastatic (n = 27) lesions and IHC reactivity for D2R in 23 samples from primary GI-NENs lesions.

Results: Sstr2 was the commonest sstr expressed (65·4%) and was co-expressed with sstr3 and sstr5 in 32·1% and 24·7% of the specimens, respectively. In 67 of 81 specimens (82·7%), there was concordance of sstr2 immunohistochemistry with SRS findings (P < 0·001). D2R was expressed in only 8 of 23 (34·8%) GI-NENs while was co-expressed with sstr2 in all cases. SRS grade, as per Krenning scale, was higher in metastatic foci, large-size (>2 cm) tumours and GI-NENs, whereas sstr2 intensity was greater in GI compared to lung NENs. SRS grade showed higher correlation with sstr2 (r = 0·6, P < 0·001) and D2R (r = 0·5, P < 0·001) IHC intensity scores than tumour size (r = 0·4, P < 0·001) and sstr3 (r = 0·4, P < 0·001) intensity score.

Conclusions: Sstr2 IHC expression and SRS are useful tools for the diagnosis and management of NENs because they display a high concordance. IHC expression of DR2 seems to be of potential clinical significance in GI-NENs tumours.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / diagnosis*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / diagnostic imaging
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / metabolism
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radionuclide Imaging / methods
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Somatostatin / metabolism*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Somatostatin


  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Somatostatin
  • SSTR2 protein, human
  • somatostatin receptor 3
  • Somatostatin
  • somatostatin receptor 5