Virchows Archiv

, Volume 472, Issue 3, pp 341–349 | Cite as

Ki67 labeling index: assessment and prognostic role in gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms

  • Günter KlöppelEmail author
  • Stefano La Rosa
Review and Perspectives


In 1983, a monoclonal antibody, Ki67, was generated, that labeled the nuclei of proliferating non-neoplastic and neoplastic cells. The name Ki67 derived from the city of Kiel (Ki) where the antibody was produced in the university department of pathology and refers to the number of the original clone (67). Systematic assessment of the proliferative activity of tumors using Ki67 started in the 1990s, when Ki67, which only worked on frozen tissue, was complemented by the antibody MIB-1 that also worked in formalin-fixed tissues. Pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PanNENs) were the first endocrine tumors whose proliferative activity was assessed with Ki67. This approach was so successful that Ki67 was included as prognostic marker in the 2000 and 2004 WHO classifications of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (GEP-NENs). In 2010, the WHO classification of GEP-NENs introduced a three-tiered grading, originally proposed by ENETS in 2006 that was mainly based on the Ki67 index. As it has subsequently been shown that the Ki67 index is the most reliable factor in the prognostic evaluation of GEP-NENs, especially of PanNENs, the 2017 WHO classification of PanNENs requires its use and strongly recommends exact assessment of the proportion Ki67-labeled cells as basis for the calculation of the Ki67 index. Problems in assessing the Ki67 index include intertumoral and intratumoral staining heterogeneity and counting methods. Despite such problems, the Ki67 index has emerged as indispensable for the prognostic and therapeutic stratification of the majority of GEP-NENs and can barely be replaced by counting mitoses. In future, however, it can be anticipated that the Ki67 cut-offs experience refinement in relation to the type of tumor, its location, and its response to therapy. It is also possible that the prognostic risk of an individual tumor is calculated for each Ki67 unit and not for an “a priori” fixed Ki67 class.


Ki67 History Assessment Prognostic marker Neuroendocrine neoplasms Pancreas Stomach Intestine 


Compliance with ethical standards

This work does not violate any ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Pathology, Consultation Center for Pancreatic and Endocrine TumorsTechnical University of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Service of Clinical Pathology, Institute of PathologyLausanne University HospitalLausanneSwitzerland

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