Cancer stem-neuroendocrine cells in an atypical carcinoid case report

Valentina Masciale, Giulia Grisendi, Federico Banchelli, Roberto D’Amico, Antonino Maiorana, Uliano Morandi, Massimo Dominici, Beatrice Aramini


Lung neuroendocrine cells tumor (NET) classification and diagnosis, particularly for typical and atypical carcinoids, are complicated by a variable natural history and nonspecific symptoms. Mechanisms for the development and progression of well-differentiated lung NETs are still unclear. An accurate and timely diagnosis can ensure the implementation of appropriate treatment and impact on prognosis. One of the main unclear point is the definition of these cells’ composition. In fact, it is known that carcinoids are mainly constituted by neuroendocrine cells. Aim of our report is to show for the first time the presence of a high percentage of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in an atypical carcinoid. The ALDEFLUOR assay was used to identify and sort ALDHhigh and ALDHlow human lung cancer cells following tissue digestion. SOX2 was additionally determined by immunohistochemistry. All specimens contained the 53.10% of ALDHhigh cells among all viable lung cancer cells, which indicates that more than half of the entire tumor cell population was composed by CSCs. As expected also in immunohistochemistry, about a half of the nuclei of the cells were positive for SOX2. We strongly support the hypothesis of the presence of cancer stem-neuroendocrine cells (CSCs-NETs) as subpopulation in these types of tumors.