The diagnosis of neuroendocrine neoplasia (NEN) is often made at an advanced stage of disease, including hepatic metastasis. At this point, the primary may still be unknown and sometimes cannot even be detected by functional imaging, especially in very small tumors of the pancreas (pan) and small intestinal (si) entities. The site of the primary may be based on biopsy specimens of the liver applying a specific set of markers. Specimens of liver metastases from 87 patients with NENs were studied. In retrospect, 50 patients had si and 37 pan NENs. Tissue samples were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. The markers applied were insulin gene enhancer protein Islet-1 (ISL-1), homeobox protein CDX-2 (CDX2), thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF-1), and serotonin. Positive stains for CDX2 were documented in 43 (86%) and for serotonin in 45 (90%) of 50 siNENs. Three panNENs were positive for CDX2 and one for serotonin, respectively. ISL-1 was negative throughout in siNENs and also negative in 8 of 50 panNENs (21.6%). TTF-1 was negative in more than 90% of the specimens of either entity. Immunohistochemical markers in liver metastasis can lead the way to the site of the primary NEN. They should always be used in combined clusters.
Keywords: CDX2; Islet 1; Liver metastasis; Neuroendocrine neoplasia; Serotonin.