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Histopathology. 2001 Jun;38(6):550-60.

Expression of MUC1 and MUC2 and carbohydrate antigen Tn change during malignant transformation of biliary papillomatosis.

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Department of Pathology (II), Kanazawa University School of Medicine, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan.



Biliary papillomatosis is characterized by papillary proliferations of biliary lining cells without invasion or metastasis. The neoplastic character and biological behaviour of this disease remain still speculative. These issues were examined in this study.


Mucin core protein MUC1, MUC2, MUC3, MUC5AC and carbohydrate antigens (T, Tn and sialosyl Tn) were immunohistochemically examined, using 11 lesions of biliary papillomatosis from seven patients, and five lesions of biliary papillomatosis with foci of carcinoma from four patients. Five cases of papillary intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and 12 histologically normal livers were used as a control. Patients with biliary papillomatosis alone or with carcinoma were middle-aged or elderly (five men and six women). Microscopically, biliary papillomatosis showed a villous, papillo-tubular, papillary, or papillo-villous pattern with a thin fibrovascular core. Cytologically, they were classifiable into biliary epithelial or pyloric gland-like type. The former was frequent in the cases associated with carcinoma. Expression of MUC1, Tn antigen and sialosyl Tn antigen was frequent and marked in biliary papillomatosis alone and with carcinoma and also intrahepatic papillary carcinoma. In addition, marked expression of MUC1 and Tn antigen were rather frequent in biliary papillomatosis with carcinoma and intrahepatic biliary papillary carcinoma compared with biliary papillomatosis. MUC2 was rather frequent and marked in biliary papillomatosis alone compared to other two disease groups. Focal expression of MUC5AC and MUC2 was rather frequent and infrequent irrespective of disease group, respectively. Focal expression of T antigen was frequent in papillary ICC.


Biliary papillomatosis could undergo overt malignant transformation along with altered phenotypic expression of MUC proteins and mucin carbohydrate antigens.

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