Neuron Specific Enolase as a biomarker: biochemical and clinical aspects

Maria Antonietta Isgro', Patrizia Bottoni, Roberto Scatena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuron-specific enolase (NSE) is known to be a cell specific isoenzyme of the glycolytic enzyme enolase. In vertebrate organisms three isozymes of enolase, expressed by different genes, are present: enolase α is ubiquitous; enolase β is muscle-specific and enolase γ is neuron-specific. The expression of NSE, which occurs as γγ- and αγ-dimer, is a late event in neural differentiation, thus making it a useful index of neural maturation.NSE is a highly specific marker for neurons and peripheral neuroendocrine cells. As a result of the findings of NSE in specific tissues under normal conditions, increased body fluids levels of NSE may occur with malignant proliferation and thus can be of value in diagnosis, staging and treatment of related neuroendocrine tumours (NETs).NSE is currently the most reliable tumour marker in diagnosis, prognosis and follow-up of small cell lung cancer (SCLC), even though increased levels of NSE have been reported also in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The level of NSE correlates with tumour burden, number of metastatic sites and response to treatment.NSE can be also useful at diagnosis of NETs and gastroenteropancreatic (GEP)-NETs.Raised serum levels of NSE have been found in all stages of neuroblastoma, although the incidence of increased concentration is greater in widespread and metastatic disease. Moreover, NSE determination in cord blood offers an early postnatal possibility of confirming the diagnosis of neuroblastoma in newborns.NSE has been demonstrated to provide quantitative measures of brain damage and/or to improve the diagnosis and the outcome evaluation in ischaemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, seizures, comatose patients after cardiopulmonary resuscitation for cardiac arrest and traumatic brain injury.Increased NSE serum levels have also been found associated with melanoma, seminoma, renal cell carcinoma, Merkel cell tumour, carcinoid tumours, dysgerminomas and
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalAdvances in experimental medicine and biology
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • cancer
  • tumor marker


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuron Specific Enolase as a biomarker: biochemical and clinical aspects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this