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Hepatol Int. 2008 Sep;2(3):316-21. doi: 10.1007/s12072-008-9075-0. Epub 2008 May 1.

Hepatocellular adenoma: what is new in 2008.

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Department of Pathology, Hôpital Pellegrin CHU Bordeaux, Université Bordeaux 2, Inserm 889, Bordeaux Cedex, France,


Patients (85%) with hepatocellular adenoma (HCA) are women taking oral contraceptives. They can be divided into four subgroups according to their genotype/phenotype features. (1) Hepatocyte nuclear factor 1alpha (HNF1alpha) biallelic somatic mutations are observed in 35% of the HCA cases. It occurs in almost all cases in women. HNF1alpha-mutated HCA are most of the time, highly steatotic, with a lack of expression of liver fatty acid binding protein (LFABP) in immunohistochemistry analyses. Adenomatosis is frequently detected in this context. An HNF1alpha germline mutation is observed in less than 5% of HCA cases and can be associated with MODY 3 diabetes. (2) An activating beta-catenin mutation was found in 10% of HCA. These beta-catenin activated HCAs are observed in men and women, and specific risk factors, such as male hormone administration or glycogenosis, are associated with their development. Immunohistochemistry studies show that these HCAs overexpress beta-catenin (nuclear and cytoplasmic) and glutamine synthetase. This group of tumours has a higher risk of malignant transformation into hepatocellular carcinoma. (3) Inflammatory HCAs are observed in 40% of the cases, and they are most frequent in women but are also found in men. Lesions are characterised by inflammatory infiltrates, dystrophic arteries, sinusoidal dilatation and ductular reaction. They express serum amyloid A and C-reactive protein. In this group, GGT is frequently elevated, with a biological inflammatory syndrome present. Also, there are more overweight patients in this group. An additional 10% of inflammatory HCAs express beta-catenin, and are also at risk of malignant transformation. (4) Currently, less than 10% of HCAs are unclassified. It is hoped that in the near future it will be possible with clinical, biological and imaging data to predict in which of the 2 major groups (HNF1alpha-mutated HCA and inflammatory HCA) the patient belongs and to propose better guidelines in terms of surveillance and treatment.

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