Immunohistochemical markers of small cell carcinoma and related neuroendocrine tumours of the lung

J Pathol. 1987 Oct;153(2):137-50. doi: 10.1002/path.1711530207.


A selected group of 263 pulmonary neuroendocrine tumours comprised 156 small cell carcinomas, five combined cell carcinomas, nine atypical carcinoid/small cell carcinomas, 32 atypical carcinoids, ten large cell/small cell carcinomas, and 51 carcinoid tumours. These were compared with a group of 109 non-small cell carcinomas, using four markers of neuroendocrine differentiation to determine differences in reactivity between the two groups and among the variants of neuroendocrine tumour. The antibodies used were neuron-specific enolase (NSE), protein gene product (PGP) 9.5, human bombesin, and the C-terminal flanking peptide of human bombesin (CTP). Most small cell carcinomas, carcinoid tumours, and atypical carcinoid variants showed immunoreactivity for both NSE and PGP 9.5 but a significant number of non-small cell carcinomas, mainly squamous cell carcinomas, were also positive (11 and 35 per cent, respectively). Bombesin was specific for neuroendocrine tumours, being demonstrable in 35 per cent carcinoids and 24 per cent small cell carcinomas, but staining was focal and often confined to scattered cells. Diffuse strongly positive immunoreactivity for CTP was seen in the majority of malignant neuroendocrine tumours, but only 12 per cent of carcinoid tumours were positive and non-small cell carcinomas were negative. CTP is therefore of potential value as a specific marker of malignant neuroendocrine tumours, particularly if the amount of biopsy material is limited and the tumour is an unusual variant, such as atypical carcinoid or large cell-small cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Bombesin / immunology
  • Carcinoid Tumor / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / immunology*
  • Gastrin-Releasing Peptide
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lung Neoplasms / classification
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neuropeptides / immunology
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / immunology
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neuropeptides
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides
  • Gastrin-Releasing Peptide
  • gastrin releasing peptide (14-27)
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase
  • Bombesin