Histopathological, immunohistochemical, genetic and molecular markers of neuroendocrine neoplasms
Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) arise from cells of the neuroendocrine system located in many sites amongst which most common are the gastrointestinal (GI) system and the lung. The efforts to assess the specific site of origin or predict the biological behavior of NENs is based upon a detailed study of neoplasm’s architectural pattern, immunohistochemical, genetic and molecular profile. Immunohistochemistry is used to characterize the aggressivity of NENs, by assessing the proliferation index Ki-67, as well as the neuroendocrine differentiation by assessing chromogranin A (CgA) and CD56. Basal panels of immunohistochemical markers such as CDX-2, Isl-1, TTF-1, PAX6/8 are currently being used to allocate the neoplasms, while in dubious cases new markers are investigating. Unraveling the genetic and molecular mechanisms of NENs pathogenesis along with shedding light on the molecular heterogeneity of neoplasms and the individual patterns of molecular lesions, underlining these neoplasms may provide new tools in terms of diagnostics and therapeutics. Molecular targeted therapies (MTTs) such as everolimus and sunitinib have been the first example of druggable molecular targets implicated in NENs that have been approved for NEN treatment. New investigational drugs are developing along with genetic tests that may allow the identification of the specific subset of patients that will respond to each individual MTT. Multiparametrical molecular and genetic analysis such as the NETest and the MASTER are already in trials shedding light in a step-by-step management of NENs that allow not only the selection of an appropriate therapeutic option but also the identification of response to treatment or early relapse allowing an early amendment of the strategy. Summarizing the combination of histopathological, immunohistochemical, genetic and molecular profile of a NEN opens new horizons in the efficient management of NENs.