European Journal of Clinical Investigation vol:28 issue:6 pages:431-40
Chromogranin A (CgA) belongs to a family of secretory proteins that are present in densecore vesicles of neuroendocrine cells. Owing to its widespread distribution in neuroendocrine tissues, it can be used as an excellent immunohistochemical marker of neoplasms of neuroendocrine origin. It can also serve as serum marker of neuroendocrine activity because it is co-released with the peptide hormone content of the secretory granules. The serum concentration of CgA is elevated in patients with various neuroendocrine tumours. Elevated levels are strongly correlated with tumour volume. Although its sensitivity and specificity cannot compete with that of the specific hormonal secretion products of most of these tumours, it can nevertheless have useful clinical applications. Neuroendocrine tumours for which no peptide marker is available usually retain the capacity to secrete CgA. CgA can thus be used as serum marker for these so-called 'non-functioning' endocrine tumours. Moreover, in patients with carcinoids and phaeochromocytomas, CgA is a more stable and thus more easily manageable marker than plasma levels of respectively serotonin and catecholamines and their urinary metabolites. Its role as an important general neuroendocrine marker may be extended in the future by the development of immunoscintigraphy of membrane-bound CgA, allowing in vivo visualization of neuroendocrine neoplasms.