Author(s): Warren WH, Memoli VA, Gould VE, Jao W, Lee I
Eighteen head and neck paragangliomas were studied by light microscopy and light microscopic immunohistochemistry by the peroxidase technique for the presence of NSE (neuron-specific enolase), serotonin, and a battery of neuropeptides. Seven of these tumors were also studied by electron microscopy. All 18 cases demonstrated immunostaining for NSE; 10 of the 11 carotid body tumors had immunostaining for multiple hormones. Considering all 18 cases, the most frequently demonstrated hormonal substances were in order: serotonin, leu-enkephalin, gastrin, substance P, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), somatostatin, bombesin, calcitonin, and alpha MSH. In several tumors, adjacent-step sections stained for different hormonal substances strongly suggested reactivity for more than one hormone in given tumor cells. By electron microscopy, all 7 cases studied displayed considerable heterogeneity of the neurosecretory granules with respect to size, shape, and electron density. This demonstrated that branchiomeric paragangliomas are capable of producing a spectrum of neuropeptides in addition to their known amine content. The presence of immunoreactive serotonin in most of these neoplasms was confirmed. In addition to these findings, neurofibrils within the substance of carotid body paragangliomas demonstrated immunoreactivity for somatostatin and a gastrinlike neuropeptide. The significance of the neuropeptides in these neoplasms and their possible presence and role in normal and hyperplastic paraganglia remain to be defined.