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CD56: a useful tool for the diagnosis of small cell lung carcinomas on biopsies with extensive crush artefact
  1. K Kontogianni1,
  2. A G Nicholson2,
  3. D Butcher2,
  4. M N Sheppard2
  1. 1Department of Histopathology, Areteion Hospital, Athens, Greece
  2. 2Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, London SW3 6NP, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Sheppard
 Department of Histopathology, Royal Brompton Hospital, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NP, UK;


Background/Aims: The diagnosis of small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) on bronchial biopsy is often problematical as a result of intense crush artefact. Several antibodies are now available to help in the diagnosis of SCLC and their value was assessed in this clinical situation.

Methods/Results: Twenty cases of SCLC and 10 control cases (one non-Hodgkin lymphoma, three non-small cell carcinomas, one follicular reactive hyperplasia, and five chronic non-specific inflammations) with extensive crush artefact were stained using antibodies to CD56, MNF116, thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF-1), and CD45. All SCLCs showed strong positive staining for CD56 in 75–100% of recognisable tumour cells, even in areas where there was extensive crush artefact. Eighteen of 20 cases were positive for TTF-1 and 16 of 20 were positive for MNF116 in the tumour cells, but both of these antibodies showed little or no staining in areas of crush artefact. Control cases comprising lymphoid cells were positive for CD45 in areas of crush artefact, but all cases of SCLC were negative.

Conclusion: CD56, along with markers for cytokeratins—TTF-1, and CD45—are useful in the diagnosis of SCLC in biopsies with extensive crush artefact and can help confirm the diagnosis in cases where features are equivocal.

  • SCLC, small cell lung carcinoma
  • TTF-1, thyroid transcription factor 1
  • CD56
  • thyroid transcription factor 1
  • small cell carcinoma
  • lung
  • immunohistochemistry

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