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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research