Immunohistochemistry in Neuro-Oncology: Markers or Signposts?

  • L. J. Rubinstein
Part of the Developments in Oncology book series (DION, volume 52)


The contributions of immunohistochemical techniques to the interpretation and further study of central nervous system (CNS) tumors are well known. Recent reviews have described the scope of these techniques in neurosurgical diagnosis and illustrated how proteins with diverse neural specificity are being employed today as markers of developing, normal adult, and pathological cells of the nervous system (1–3). These proteins may be structural (therefore related to the cytoskeleton or the cell membranes), or soluble (some having enzymatic activity); others may be concerned with neuroendocrine functions, and others again behave as neurotransmitters. While these markers are often highly sensitive, their cell-specificity varies. Consequently some of their immunomorphological reactions are currently raising a number of questions which necessitate a reappraisal of their role as indicators of cytogenesis. In reality the antigenic determinants revealed by these methods often prove to be not so much markers of histogenesis, as signposts — or signals — pointing towards one or more potential lines of neoplastic differentiation. We have discussed in greater detail elsewhere the implications that may be drawn from the various manifestations of this phenomenon (4). In this brief review, we propose to summarize some of these points.

Key words

Immunocytochemistry Brain Tumours Differentiation Markers Histopathology 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. J. Rubinstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Neuropathology, Department of PathologyUniversity of Virginia School of MedicineCharlottesvilleUSA

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