Apoptosis and proliferation in hepatocarcinogenesis related to cirrhosis
Young Nyun Park ; Kwang Jo Chae ; Neil Theise ; Chanil Park ; Young Bae Kim
Cancer, Vol.92(11) : 2733~2738, 2001
Dysplastic nodules (DNs) recently have been identified as preneoplastic lesions of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To test an alternative hypothesis regarding DN development, in which we have suggested that DNs develop as an infiltrating clonal expansion in advance of, or parallel to cirrhosis, the authors investigated the rates of apoptosis and proliferation in human hepatocarcinogenesis.
The authors performed terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay and proliferation cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) staining in 11 low-grade DNs, 8 high-grade DNs including 3 cases with HCC subnodules, 10 small HCCs, and 29 cases of surrounding cirrhotic nodules. Hepatocellular carcinoma subnodules were present in three cases of high DNs. They determined TUNEL-labeling indices (LIs) and PCNA-LIs as the percentage of positive hepatocyte nuclei per 500 randomly counted cells.
TUNEL-LIs (mean +/- standard deviation) were 0.8 +/- 0.82 in cirrhotic nodules, 1.0 +/- 0.98 in low-grade DNs, 3.0 +/- 4.33 in high-grade DNs, 8.7 +/- 7.71 in HCC subnodules of high-grade DNs, and 3.2 +/- 3.58 in small HCCs. The peak values of apoptotic activity were higher in high-grade DNs and HCCs than in low-grade DNs and cirrhotic nodules. Each case of low-grade DN showed a low to medium level of apoptotic activity when compared with those of the four surrounding cirrhotic nodules. The PCNA-LIs were 2.6 +/- 1.35 in cirrhotic nodules, 4.5 +/- 2.31 in low-grade DNs, 15.3 +/- 10.50 in high-grade DNs, 25.4 +/- 5.25 in HCC subnodules of high-grade DNs, and 34.9 +/- 15.70 in small HCCs. The peak values gradually increased, although only HCC showed significantly elevated proliferation activity. The differences of PCNA-LIs and TUNEL-LIs, measured in each case, were 1.7 +/- 1.89 in cirrhotic nodules, 3.6 +/- 2.43 in low-grade DNs, 7.9 +/- 5.69 in high-grade DNs, 16.2 +/- 2.87 in HCC subnodules of high-grade DNs, 28.2 +/- 13.97 in small HCCs. At all stages of hepatocarcinogenesis, the rates of cell proliferation were higher than apoptosis, allowing a preferential net gain of (pre)neoplastic cells, and it was significantly increased in small HCCs. In regenerative cirrhotic nodules, 14% (4 cases) showed higher rates of apoptosis than proliferation.
The regulation/dysregulation of apoptosis of (pre)neoplastic cells as well as of proliferation may play an important role in the process of hepatocarcinogenesis.