The American journal of surgical pathology vol:25 issue:11 pages:1388-96
Hepatocellular adenoma is a benign tumor of the liver that has a small but not negligible risk of malignant transformation into hepatocellular carcinoma. In analogy with the established role of oval cells in hepatocarcinogenesis in rodent models, human hepatic progenitor cells may have a function in the development of liver tumors. To investigate this issue, we performed immunohistochemistry on biopsies of 10 consecutively resected hepatocellular adenomas using markers for hepatic progenitor cells. Sections of paraffin-embedded and frozen biopsies were stained using antibodies against cytokeratins 7, 8, 18, and 19, chromogranin-A, OV-6, and neural cell adhesion molecule. Hepatic progenitor cells were observed in five of 10 hepatocellular adenomas. These five tumors also contained cells with an immunohistochemical phenotype intermediate between hepatic progenitor cells and hepatocytes. Hepatic progenitor cells and intermediate hepatocyte-like cells were scattered throughout the tumors with a density that varied from area to area. Ultrastructural examination confirmed the presence of hepatic progenitor cells. Our study shows that hepatic progenitor cells are present in a considerable proportion of hepatocellular adenomas, supporting the hypothesis that human hepatic progenitor cells can play a role in the development of hepatocellular tumors.