Measurement of Serum Neuron-Specific Enolase in Neuroblastoma: Is There a Clinical Role?

Simona Ferraro, Federica Braga, Roberto Luksch, Monica Terenziani, Simone Caruso, Mauro Panteghini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The measurement of neuron-specific enolase (NSE) in serum is frequently requested for diagnosis, risk stratification, and treatment monitoring of neuroblastoma (NB) in the pediatric population. However, authoritative clinical practice guidelines advise about the poor diagnostic performance of NSE. CONTENT: We critically appraised the available literature evaluating the diagnostic and prognostic value of NSE in the management of NB, paying special attention to the definition of appropriate threshold levels. In addition, we discuss the interfering conditions causing artifactual increases of NSE concentrations in serum and potentially influencing the clinical evaluation of patients with suspected NB. SUMMARY: No definitive evidence supports the use of serum NSE for diagnosis and monitoring of NB. The risk of obtaining false-positive NSE results associated with confounders (e.g., sample hemolysis) and other pathophysiologic conditions (e.g., inflammation) is remarkable and hampers the diagnostic value of this test. NSE may be helpful to define the risk of death of patients with NB, mainly in the advanced stages of disease. However, further studies validating currently marketed immunoassays and defining threshold values useful for this scope are warranted.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Chemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2020


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