Neuron specific enolase (NSE)

Author: Kara Hamilton, M.S. (see Authors page)

Revised: 16 November 2015, last major update June 2009

Copyright: (c) 2002-2015,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Neuron specific enolase [title]

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Cite this page: Neuron specific enolase (NSE). website. Accessed January 22nd, 2019.
Definition / general
  • Cytoplasmic enzyme expressed by neuroendocrine cells and tumors, including poorly differentiated neuroendocrine tumors, which usually are negative for other neuroendocrine markers
  • Despite its name, is often not specific for neuroendocrine cells / tumors
  • Enolases are widely distributed glycolytic enzymes that catalyze the interconversion of 2-phosphoglycerate and phosphophenolpyruvate
  • NSE refers to the gamma-gamma and alpha-gamma isoenzymes preferentially found in neurons and neuroendocrine cells
Microscopic (histologic) images
Missing Image


Positive staining - normal
  • Neurons, neuroendocrine cells
Positive staining - disease
  • Neuroectodermal and neuroendocrine neoplasms
  • Melanomas