LGR5 is expressed in various tumors and has been identified as a putative intestinal stem cell marker. Here we investigated LGR5 expression in colorectal neuroendocrine neoplasms and analyzed the correlation with pathological characteristics. We evaluated the clinicopathological features of 8 neuroendocrine tumor (NET) grade 1 (NET G1), 4 NET Grade 2 (NET G2), and 8 NET Grade 3 (NET G3; also termed neuroendocrine carcinoma, or NEC) cases. We examined LGR5 expression using an RNAscope, a newly developed RNA in situ hybridization technique, with a tissue microarray of the neuroendocrine neoplasm samples. LGR5 staining in individual tumor cells was semi-quantitatively scored using an H-score scale. We also performed a combination of LGR5 RNA in situ hybridization and synaptophysin immunohistochemistry. All cases contained tumor cells with some LGR5-positive dots. For all cases, H-scores showed a positive correlation with nuclear beta-catenin expression. In the NEC group, there was a strong positive correlation between H-score and beta-catenin expression. Our findings suggest that LGR5 may serve as a stem cell marker in NEC, as is the case in colon adenocarcinoma. The positive correlation between H-score and beta-catenin expression suggests that LGR5 expression might be affected by beta-catenin expression in neuroendocrine neoplasms and especially in NEC.
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