Aims To test the incidence of the expression of the immunohistochemical markers that aid diagnosis of gastrointestinal tract small cell carcinoma (GI-SmCC) and to evaluate the incidence of mixed endocrine–exocrine carcinomas in GI-SmCC.
Methods Immunohistochemical studies of three antibodies against epithelial markers (CK8, AE1/AE3, EMA), four neuroendocrine differentiation markers (synaptophysin (Syn), neuron specific enolase (NSE), neuronal cell adhesion molecules (CD56), chromogranin A (CgA)), and a transcription factor (thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF-1)) were performed. The incidence of non-endocrine carcinoma component was evaluated in 42 GI-SmCCs (11 in the oesophagus, 15 in the stomach, 15 in the colon, and 1 in the small intestine).
Results The percentages of GI-SmCC with positive immunoreactivity were: CK8 92.9%, AE1/AE3 76.2%, EMA 71.4%, Syn 100%, NSE 100%, CD56 90.5%, CgA 61.9%, TTF-1 21.4%. The low molecular weight cytokeratin CK8 is more commonly expressed in GI-SmCC than is the expression of AE1/AE3 or EMA. Synaptophysin and NSE are expressed in all GI-SmCCs studied. Non-endocrine carcinoma components were demonstrated in 8 patients (4 in the oesophagus and 4 in the stomach).
Conclusion In detecting GI-SmCC, epithelial marker CK8 is more sensitive than AE1/AE3 or EMA, and neuroendocrine differentiation markers synaptophysin and NSE are the most useful markers. TTF-1 positivity is not uncommon in GI-SmCC, but cases with negative TTF-1 staining may indicate an extra-pulmonary primary. Non-endocrine carcinoma components were demonstrated in about 30% of oesophagus and stomach SmCC; the neoplasms should be diagnosed as mixed endocrine–exocrine carcinoma.
- Gastrointestinal tract
- small cell carcinoma
- immunohistochemical study
- gastrointestinal disease
- neuroendocrine tumours
- surgical pathology
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Funding The work was funded by the National Science Council (NSC 98-2320-B-010-015) and Taipei Veterans General Hospital (V99C1-126).
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Obtained from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital Research Ethics Committee (VGHIRB No. 97-12-42A).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.