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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 408459, 9 pages
Research Article

Expression of Neuroendocrine Markers in Different Molecular Subtypes of Breast Carcinoma

1Institute of Pathology, University Hospital, Krankenhausstr 8–10, Erlangen 91054, Germany
2Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospital, Universitätsstr 21, Erlangen 91054, Germany

Received 2 December 2013; Accepted 12 January 2014; Published 19 February 2014

Academic Editor: Gottfried E. Konecny

Copyright © 2014 David L. Wachter et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Carcinomas of the breast with neuroendocrine features are incorporated in the World Health Organization classification since 2003 and include well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors, poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas/small cell carcinomas, and invasive breast carcinomas with neuroendocrine differentiation. Neuroendocrine differentiation is known to be more common in certain low-grade histologic special types and has been shown to mainly cluster to the molecular (intrinsic) luminal A subtype. Methods. We analyzed the frequency of neuroendocrine differentiation in different molecular subtypes of breast carcinomas of no histologic special type using immunohistochemical stains with specific neuroendocrine markers (chromogranin A and synaptophysin). Results. We found neuroendocrine differentiation in 20% of luminal B-like carcinomas using current WHO criteria (at least 50% of tumor cells positive for synaptophysin or chromogranin A). In contrast, no neuroendocrine differentiation was seen in luminal A-like, HER2 amplified and triple-negative carcinomas. Breast carcinomas with neuroendocrine differentiation presented with advanced stage disease and showed aggressive behavior. Conclusions. We conclude that neuroendocrine differentiation is more common than assumed in poorly differentiated luminal B-like carcinomas. Use of specific neuroendocrine markers is thus encouraged in this subtype to enhance detection of neuroendocrine differentiation and hence characterize the biological and therapeutic relevance of this finding in future studies.