Neuroendocrine cells in prostate cancer correlate with poor outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ashwini Kannan, David Clouston, Mark Frydenberg, Dragan Ilic, Md Nazmul Karim, Sue M. Evans, Roxanne Toivanen, Gail P. Risbridger, Renea A. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature to understand the variation in the reporting of neuroendocrine staining and determine the influence of reporting neuroendocrine staining at diagnosis on patient outcomes. Methods: Medical databases were searched to identify studies in which adenocarcinoma specimens were stained with any of the following four neuroendocrine markers: chromogranin A (CgA), neuron-specific enolase (NSE), synaptophysin and CD56. The prevalence of neuroendocrine staining and correlation of the prevalence of neuroendocrine staining to patient outcomes were analysed using a random-effects model. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Sixty-two studies spanning 7616 patients were analysed. The pooled prevalence for the most common marker, CgA (41%), was similar to that of NSE (39%) and higher than that of synaptophysin (31%). The prevalence of CgA staining was significantly influenced by reporting criteria, where objective thresholds reduced the variation in prevalence to 26%. No correlation was found between CgA prevalence and tumour grade. Patients positive for CgA staining using objective criteria had more rapid biochemical progression (hazard ratio [HR] 1.98, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.49 to 2.65) and poorer prostate cancer-specific survival (HR 7.03, 95% CI 2.55 to 19.39) compared to negative patients, even among those with low-risk cancers. Conclusion: Discrepancies in the reported prevalence of neuroendocrine cells in adenocarcinoma are driven by the inconsistent scoring criteria. This study unequivocally demonstrates that when neuroendocrine cell staining is assessed with objective criteria it identifies patients with poor clinical outcomes. Future studies are needed to determine the exact quantifiable thresholds for use in reporting neuroendocrine cell staining to identify patients at higher risk of progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-433
Number of pages14
JournalBJU International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • cancer mortality
  • neuroendocrine cells
  • pathology
  • prostate neoplasia
  • risk stratification

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