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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1999 Sep;123(9):812-6.

Immunoexpression of villin in neuroendocrine tumors and its diagnostic implications.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA.



Villin, a 95-kd cytoskeletal protein associated with axial microfilament bundles of brush border microvilli, is mostly restricted to intestinal glandular tumors. Villin immunoexpression was recently observed in a small number of carcinoids of the intestinal tract and lung, but its significance in a broad category of neuroendocrine tumors has not been evaluated.


A total of 114 neuroendocrine tumors of different origins were tested for villin expression. They included gastrointestinal carcinoids (n = 30), lung carcinoids (n = 15), small cell carcinomas of the lung (n = 24), small cell carcinomas of other sites (n = 15), islet cell tumors (n = 8), Merkel cell carcinomas (n = 6), paragangliomas (n = 6), and others (n = 10). Nine round cell sarcomas were tested as well.


Villin immunoreactivity was present in 85% of gastrointestinal carcinoids and small cell carcinomas, but was found in only 40% of lung carcinoids. Other tumors tested were virtually negative for villin. In general, while cytoplasmic reactivity was most common, a characteristic apical membranous pattern simulating brush border was seen in 76% of the gastrointestinal carcinoids and in 50% of the lung carcinoids.


We found that villin was predominantly restricted to gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors (excluding islet cell tumors), although a small number of bronchial carcinoids may be positive as well. These results suggest a role for villin in the differential diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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