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Hum Pathol. 2008 Feb;39(2):224-30. Epub 2007 Oct 18.

Expression of glypican 3 in hepatoblastoma: an immunohistochemical study of 65 cases.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Glypican 3 is a heparin sulfate proteoglycan bound to the cell surface that is theorized to participate in cell signaling, resulting in embryonic cell growth and differentiation. The GPC3 gene is mutated in Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome, whose features include numerous developmental abnormalities, tissue overgrowth, and an increased risk for embryonal malignancies, including hepatoblastoma. GPC3 has been detected in hepatic stem cells and was recently identified as one of the most overexpressed genes in hepatoblastoma by microarray analysis. The purpose of this study was to analyze the expression of GPC3 in a large series of hepatoblastoma using immunohistochemistry to assess its use as a diagnostic marker. The GPC3 immunoreactivity was semiquantitatively evaluated in 65 cases of hepatoblastoma. In addition, histologic patterns in each tumor were individually assessed for immunoreactivity. All 65 hepatoblastomas had cytoplasmic immunoreactivity for GPC3 with greater than 90% of cases showing strong, diffuse positivity. There was no reactivity in benign liver tissue. Fetal, embryonal, and small cell undifferentiated patterns were diffusely positive in almost all cases, whereas mesenchymal and teratoid patterns were nearly all negative. The high GPC3 expression consistently demonstrated in this study suggests that GPC3 may play a role in the tumorigenesis of hepatoblastoma.

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