Summary Histopathologic parameters and molecular markers are widely accepted as useful predictors of tumor aggressiveness in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, few studies have analyzed immunohistochemical profiles comprehensively in one series, a fact that has resulted in fragmentation of information that could be applied in clinical practice. We conducted immunohistochemical expression analysis of biliary/stem cell markers (cytokeratin 19, sal-like protein 4, epithelial cell adhesion molecule, and CD133), Wnt/β-catenin signaling-related molecules (β-catenin and glutamine synthetase), p53, and cell proliferation markers (Ki-67 and mitosis) in 162 HCCs surgically resected from 142 patients and analyzed the results with respect to clinicopathological features. Immunohistochemical analysis broadly identified 3 groups: The biliary/stem cell marker-positive group, the Wnt/β-catenin signaling-related marker-positive group, and the biliary/stem cell marker-negative and Wnt/β-catenin signaling-related marker-negative group. p53 was frequently positive in the biliary/stem cell marker-positive group, but it was rarely positive in the Wnt/β-catenin signaling-related marker-positive group. The biliary/stem cell marker-positive group exhibited poor tumor differentiation, increased frequency of portal vein invasion and/or intrahepatic metastasis, and highly proliferative activity. In contrast, the biliary/stem cell marker-negative and Wnt/β-catenin signaling-related marker-negative group exhibited better tumor differentiation, a decreased frequency of portal vein invasion and/or intrahepatic metastasis, and less proliferative activity. The Wnt/β-catenin signaling-related marker-positive group showed neither tendency. The biliary/stem cell marker-positive group had the shortest time to recurrence among the 3 groups. Immunohistochemical profiling of HCC reflects tumor aggressiveness and suggests the potential efficacy of immunohistochemistry-based subclassification of HCC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas