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Virchows Arch. 2000 Mar;436(3):217-23.

Vesicular monoamine transporter 2 as a marker of gastric enterochromaffin-like cell tumors.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Brescia, Italy.


The vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) facilitates the ATP-dependent accumulation of biogenic amine inside the secretory granules of endocrine cells and neurons and was demonstrated in the histamine-producing enterochromaffin-like (ECL) cells of the stomach. In the present investigation, VMAT2 immunohistochemistry was tested in 85 endocrine tumors, of which 60 were well differentiated gastrointestinal and pancreatic growths, 5 poorly differentiated (neuro)endocrine carcinomas (PDEC) and 1 mixed PDEC/ECL cell carcinoma of the stomach, 12 pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas, 3 adrenocortical lesions, 2 parathyroid and 2 lung neuroendocrine tumors. Extensive and intense VMAT2 immunoreactivity was observed in 16 of 16 gastric ECL cell tumors, 6 of 6 adrenal pheochromocytomas, 2 of 2 chromaffin paragangliomas and in 3 of the 4 carotid body paragangliomas investigated. Rare VMAT2-positive cells were observed in 12 of 21 intestinal enterochromaffin (EC) cell tumors, in 9 of 11 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, and in the mixed PDEC/ ECL cell carcinoma of the stomach (differentiated cells only). No VMAT2 immunoreactivity was observed in five gastrin, four somatostatin and three enteroglucagon/peptideYY tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, in six gastric PDECs, in three adrenocortical growths, and two parathyroid and two lung neuroendocrine tumors. These data support VMAT2 immunohistochemistry as being a useful tool for the diagnosis of gastric ECL cell tumors, separating them from all other endocrine tumors arising in the gastroduodenal area i.e., gastrin, somatostatin, EC cell and PDEC tumors, all of which proved essentially negative.

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