The potential significance of alpha-enolase (ENO1) in lung adenocarcinomas – A utility of the immunohistochemical expression in pathologic diagnosis

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We herein analyzed the relationships among the immunohistochemical expression of alpha-enolase (ENO1) and clinicopathological factors in order to define the significance of ENO1 in lung adenocarcinomas (ADCs). ENO1 expression was detected in most of the ADCs examined (95.8%), but not in bronchial and alveolar epithelia. ENO1 expression was typically observed in the cytoplasm among most ADCs (95.8%), but was also detected in the nucleus (56.3%). The levels were significantly higher in terminal respiratory unit (TRU) cytological subtype ADCs. Neither cytoplasmic nor nuclear expression was associated with any other clinicopathological factors including post-operative survival and growth activity. These results suggest that ENO1 is a crucial factor promoting neoplastic transformation exclusively in TRU subtype ADCs. We also investigated the potential utility of the immunohistochemical expression of ENO1 to differentiate TRU-type ADC cells from the reactive hyperplasia of pneumocytes and bronchiolar epithelial cells because difficulties are associated with discriminating these lesions in small biopsy specimens. The sensitivity and specificity of ENO1 (cytoplasmic/nuclear) were 87.5%/37.5% and 88.9%/100%, respectively, which are superior to those of p53 (18.8% and 100%). ENO1 has potential as a biomarker to assist in the histopathological detection of TRU subtype ADC cells.

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