Role of biomarker tests for diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumours

Johannes Hofland*, Wouter T Zandee, Wouter W de Herder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are neoplasms that arise from neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells and their tumours can secrete a wide range of amines and polypeptide hormones into the systemic circulation. This feature has triggered widespread investigation into circulating biomarkers for the diagnosis of NETs as well as for the prediction of the biological behaviour of tumour cells. Classic examples of circulating biomarkers for gastroenteropancreatic NETs include chromogranin A, neuron-specific enolase and pancreatic polypeptide as well as hormones that elicit clinical syndromes, such as serotonin and its metabolites, insulin, glucagon and gastrin. Biomarker metrics of general markers for diagnosing all gastroenteropancreatic NET subtypes are limited, but specific hormonal measurements can be of diagnostic value in select cases. In the past decade, methods for detecting circulating transcripts and tumour cells have been developed to improve the diagnosis of patients with NETs. Concurrently, modern scanning techniques and superior radiotracers for functional imaging have markedly expanded the options for clinicians dealing with NETs. Here, we review the latest research on biomarkers in the NET field to provide clinicians with a comprehensive overview of relevant diagnostic biomarkers that can be implemented in dedicated situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-669
Number of pages14
JournalNature reviews endocrinology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers/blood
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromogranin A/blood
  • Female
  • Glucagon/blood
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Neoplasms/blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroendocrine Cells/metabolism
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors/blood
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms/blood
  • Pancreatic Polypeptide/blood
  • Protein Precursors/blood
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stomach Neoplasms/blood
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon/methods

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