Distinctive pathological and clinical features of lung carcinoids with high proliferation index

Caterina Marchiò, Gaia Gatti, Federica Massa, Luca Bertero, Pierluigi Filosso, Giuseppe Pelosi, Paola Cassoni, Marco Volante, Mauro Papotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Typical (TCs) and atypical carcinoids (ACs) are defined based on morphological criteria, and no grading system is currently accepted to further stratify these entities. The 2015 WHO classification restricts the Ki-67 role to biopsy or cytology samples, rather than for prognostic prediction. We aimed to investigate whether values and patterns of Ki-67 alone would allow for a clinically meaningful stratification of lung carcinoids, regardless of histological typing. Ki-67 proliferation index and pattern (homogeneous versus heterogeneous expression) were assessed in a cohort of 171 TCs and 68 ACs. Cases were subdivided into three Ki-67 ranges (<4/4–9/≥10%). Correlations with clinicopathological data, univariate and multivariate survival analyses were performed. The majority of cases (61.5%) belonged to the <4% Ki-67 range; 25.1 and 13.4% had a proliferation index of 4–9% and ≥10%, respectively. The <4% Ki-67 subgroup was significantly enriched for TCs (83%, p < 0.0001); ACs were more frequent in the subgroup showing Ki-67 ≥ 10% (75%, p < 0.0001). A heterogeneous Ki-67 pattern was preferentially seen in carcinoids with a Ki-67 ≥10% (38%, p < 0.02). Mean Ki-67 values ≥4 and ≥10% identified categories of poor prognosis both in terms of disease-free and overall survival (p = 0.003 and <0.0001). At multivariate analysis, the two thresholds did not retain statistical significance; however, a Ki-67 ≥ 10% identified a subgroup of dismal prognosis even within ACs (p = 0.03) at univariate analysis. Here, we describe a subgroup of lung carcinoids showing brisk proliferation activity within the necrosis and/or mitotic count-based categories. These patients were associated with specific clinicopathological characteristics, to some extent regardless of histological subtyping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-720
Number of pages8
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Carcinoid
  • Heterogeneity
  • Ki-67
  • Lung
  • Prognosis
  • WHO classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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