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Tumours with neuroendocrine differentiation frequently express chromogranin A, synaptophysin and somatostatin receptors. The role of neuroendocrine differentiation in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is not yet clear.
The presence of chromogranin A, synaptophysin and somatostatin receptors was studied immunohistochemically in 78 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma specimens.
Sparse chromogranin A expression was found in 41 per cent, associated with high chromogranin A messenger RNA expression and the presence of dense core granules. Low synaptophysin expression was found in 18 per cent. The highest staining scores were found for somatostatin receptor 5 (82 per cent), followed by somatostatin receptor 1 (69 per cent) and somatostatin receptor 2 (54 per cent), whereas somatostatin receptors 3 and 4 expression was low. Expression was not correlated with tumour stage or survival.
Cells with neuroendocrine differentiation are sparsely scattered in some head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. Their pathophysiological role is elusive. In contrast, somatostatin receptor and particularly somatostatin receptor 5 expression is frequent in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Somatostatin receptor expression is not considered to indicate neuroendocrine differentiation in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.