Extensive Expression of Collapsin Response Mediator Protein 5 (CRMP5) is a Specific Marker of High-grade Lung Neuroendocrine Carcinoma

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The diagnosis of high-grade neuroendocrine tumors has strong clinical relevance because it identifies patients at higher risk of an unfavorable outcome who should receive multimodal treatment. However, these tumors can be mistaken for poorly differentiated nonsmall cell carcinoma or carcinoid lung tumors. In fact, no immunohistochemical marker can currently distinguish between histologic lung subtypes. Because the collapsin response mediator protein (CRMP) family is involved in an autoimmune disease associated with small cell lung carcinoma, we explored the relationship between CRMP5 expression and lung tumor behavior. Using World Health Organization morphologic criteria, 123 lung neuroendocrine tumors and 41 randomly selected non-neuroendocrine tumors were classified. CRMP5 protein expression in tumors, metastases, and healthy lung tissue was assessed using immunostaining method. Strong and extensive CRMP5 expression was seen in 98·6% of high-grade neuroendocrine lung tumors, including small cell lung carcinoma and large cell lung neuroendocrine carcinoma, but not in any of the squamous cell carcinomas or lung adenocarcinomas in our series. In contrast, the majority of low-grade neuroendocrine lung tumors were negative for CRMP5 staining, although weak CRMP5 expression was seen in some, with 2 different staining patterns of either scattered positive cells or small foci of positive cells. Our findings point at CRMP5 as a novel marker for routine pathologic evaluation of lung tumors surgical samples in distinguishing between highly aggressive neuroendocrine carcinoma and the other lung cancers.

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