Glutamine synthetase immunostaining correlates with pathologic features of hepatocellular carcinoma and better survival after radiofrequency thermal ablation

Barbara Dal Bello, Laura Rosa, Nicoletta Campanini, Carmine Tinelli, Francesca Torello Viera, Gioacchino D'Ambrosio, Sandro Rossi, Enrico Maria Silini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Activation of the wnt pathway identifies a subgroup of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) with specific epidemiologic and genetic profiles. Wnt activation is predicted by mutation and/or nuclear translocation of β-catenin and by glutamine synthetase (GS) immunoreactivity. We investigated whether GS staining associates with specific pathologic features of HCC and with survival after radiofrequency thermal ablation. Experimental Design: Monoistitutional retrospective-prospective study in a tertiary hospital setting. Two hundred and seven cirrhotics (mean age, 70 years; 63% males, 82.1% hepatitis C virus positive) with early HCC were consecutively treated with radiofrequency thermal ablation (RFTA). Mean tumor size was 2.7 cm; 20.3% of patients had multiple nodules; and median follow-up was 36 months with 54.6% overall mortality. Tumor samples were mainly obtained by biopsy (92,5%) and examined by H&E and immunostaining for β-catenin and GS. Main outcome measures were overall and tumor-specific mortality by Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazard models corrected for competing risks. Results: Ninety-one patients (43.9%) had GS-positive HCCs by immunostaining. These tumors had larger size (P = 0.012) and characteristic histology (low grade, pseudoacini, hydropic changes, bile staining, lack of steatosis, and fibrosis). Other clinical or treatment variables were similar between groups. Variables correlating with tumor-specific and overall mortality by univariate analysis were tumor recurrence, advanced disease, posttreatment á-fetoprotein levels, and GS staining. Yearly, overall mortality rate was lower in GS-positive patients (12.4 versus 20% yearly; P = 0.006). By multivariate analysis, GS immunostaining correlated with reduced specific (hazard ratio, 0.58; 95% confidence interval, 0.34-0.97) and overall mortality (hazard ratio, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.40-0.96). Conclusions: Standard histology and GS status identify a HCC subset with distinct clinical and pathologic features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2157-2166
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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