Immunohistochemical and molecular features of cholangiolocellular carcinoma are similar to well-differentiated intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma

Dana Balitzer, Nancy M Joseph, Linda Ferrell, Nafis Shafizadeh, Dhanpat Jain, Xuchen Zhang, Matthew Yeh, Luca di Tommaso, Sanjay Kakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cholangiolocellular carcinoma is characterized by low grade cytologic atypia, and anastomosing cords and glands resembling cholangioles or canals of Hering. Cholangiolocellular carcinoma has been variously regarded as a subtype of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (World Health Organization 2000), combined hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma of stem cell subtype (World Health Organization 2010) and a distinct type of primary liver carcinoma. Capture-based next generation sequencing targeting the coding regions of 479 cancer genes and select introns was performed on 17 cases (5 cholangiolocellular carcinomas, 7 intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas, 5 mixed cholangiolocellular-intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas) along with immunohistochemistry for CK19, SALL4, CD56, CD117, and EMA. For 5 mixed cholangiolocellular-intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, the individual areas were micro-dissected prior to sequencing. CK19 and EMA were positive in all cases; both luminal and cytoplasmic EMA was seen in 3/5 cholangiolocellular carcinoma and 3/6 intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas. CD117 and SALL4 were negative in all cases. CD56 was positive in 2/5 cholangiolocellular carcinoma, 4/6 intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and 2/5 mixed cases. Mutations typical of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (IDH1/2, PBRM1, FGFR2) were present in 90% of cases with cholangiolocellular carcinoma component. The genomic profile (IDH1/2 mutations, FGFR2 fusions, chromatin-remodeling gene mutations such as ARID1A, PBRM1) and copy number alterations were similar in cholangiolocellular carcinoma, intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and mixed cholangiolocellular-intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. In all mixed cases, the immunohistochemistry results, mutational profile and copy number alterations in both components were similar. Cholangiolocellular carcinoma should be categorized as a histologic subtype of well-differentiated intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, and should not be considered a distinct entity, or combined hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma unless a distinct hepatocellular component is also present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1486-1494
Number of pages9
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


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