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Clin Chim Acta. 1989 Jul 31;183(1):13-31.

Clinical biochemistry of neuron specific enolase.

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Department of Medical Chemistry, University of Vienna, Austria.


The soluble brain protein 14-3-2 first described by Moore and McGregor in 1965 is now known to be a cell specific isoenzyme of the glycolytic enzyme enolase (EC, designated neuron specific enolase (NSE). It is not only a marker for all types of neurons, but also for all neuroendocrine or paraneuronal cells. The appearance of NSE is a late event in neural differentiation, thus making NSE a useful index of neural maturation. The demonstration that tumors of the nervous system and of neuroendocrine origin contain NSE has promoted the study of NSE as a possible tumor marker. Immunocytochemistry has been used to identify NSE in cytologic preparations from several types of tumors, offering useful indications for differential diagnosis. NSE levels in serum from tumor patients are not useful in the diagnosis of early stage disease. However, serum NSE levels have been shown to be helpful in the identification of advanced small cell lung cancer, neuroblastoma and several other neoplasms. The main use of serum NSE is the monitoring of chemotherapy and the detection of a relapse in these cases.

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