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Evaluation of neuroendocrine markers in renal cell carcinoma

Hanna Ronkainen1*, Ylermi Soini2, Markku H Vaarala1, Saila Kauppila3 and Pasi Hirvikoski3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, PO Box 21, Oulu University Hospital, FIN-90029 Oulu, Finland

2 Department of Clinical Pathology, PO Box 1777, Kuopio University Hospital, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland

3 Department of Pathology, PO Box 50, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, FIN-90029 Oulu, Finland

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Diagnostic Pathology 2010, 5:28  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-5-28

Published: 12 May 2010



The purpose of the study was to examine serotonin, CD56, neurone-specific enolase (NSE), chromogranin A and synaptophysin by immunohistochemistry in renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) with special emphasis on patient outcome.


We studied 152 patients with primary RCCs who underwent surgery for the removal of kidney tumours between 1990 and 1999. The mean follow-up was 90 months. The expression of neuroendocrine (NE) markers was determined by immunohistochemical staining using commercially available monoclonal antibodies. Results were correlated with patient age, clinical stage, Fuhrman grade and patient outcome.


Eight percent of tumours were positive for serotonin, 18% for CD56 and 48% for NSE. Chromogranin A immunostaining was negative and only 1% of the tumours were synaptophysin immunopositive. The NSE immunopositivity was more common in clear cell RCCs than in other subtypes (p = 0.01). The other NE markers did not show any association with the histological subtype. Tumours with an immunopositivity for serotonin had a longer RCC-specific survival and tumours with an immunopositivity for CD56 and NSE had a shorter RCC-specific survival but the difference was not significant. There was no relationship between stage or Fuhrman grade and immunoreactivity for serotonin, CD56 and NSE.


Serotonin, CD56 and NSE but not synaptophysin and chromogranin A are expressed in RCCs. However, the prognostic potential of these markers remains obscure.