Stains & molecular markers
Neuron specific enolase (NSE)


Topic Completed: 1 June 2009

Minor changes: 23 December 2020

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PubMed Search: Neuron specific enolase [title]

Kara Hamilton, M.S.
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Cite this page: Hamilton K. Neuron specific enolase (NSE). PathologyOutlines.com website. https://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/stainsNSE.html. Accessed January 20th, 2021.
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

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Pheochromocytoma

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