Immunohistochemical evaluation of neuroendocrine cells and neoplasms of the lung

Pathol Res Pract. 1988 Apr;183(2):200-13. doi: 10.1016/S0344-0338(88)80047-5.


The dispersed neuroendocrine (NE) system is represented in the bronchopulmonary tract by submucosal nerves and ganglion cells and, in the mucosal lining by solitary NE cells and neuroepithalial bodies (NEB's). The latter two components variably express pan-NE markers including NSE, chromogranin (s) and, notably, synaptophysin. The expression of serotonin, bombesin, calcitonin and leu-enkephalin has been well established; additional eutopic materials include somatostatin and calcitonin gene-related peptide. Solitary NE cells and NEB's are epithelial structures as defined by their consistent cytokeratin expression. Hyperplasia and dysplasia of NE cells may be found in association with various forms of chronic injury; they have been noted in chronic bronchiectasis and in the vicinity of neoplasms of various types. Hyperplastic and dysplastic pulmonary NE cells frequently express ectopic materials particularly ACTH. NE neoplasms of the bronchopulmonary tract comprice a spectrum that includes a) carcinoids, b) well differentiated NE carcinomas, c) intermediate cell NE carcinomas and d) small cell NE carcinomas. The precise pathologic criteria defining these entities are discussed in detail as are their clinical implications. The entire spectrum of lung NE neoplasms express NE markers demonstrable by immunocytochemistry; these include pan-NE markers, serotonin and numerous neuropeptides. The expression of multiple hormonal materials is frequent. Within any given tumor, some variation in expression may be noted in different sites and in different periods of the "normal" or therapeutically modified lifespan of the tumor. The entire spectrum of lung NE neoplasms is epithelial for they express cytokeratin polypeptides and desmoplakin; subsets of the tumors coexpress cytokeratins and neurofilament proteins. Also, subsets of these NE neoplasms may be immunostained with monoclonal antibodies to antigens related to exocrine phenotype suggesting focal amphicrine features.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoid Tumor / pathology
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / cytology*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / embryology
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiology