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Mod Pathol. 2017 Jul;30(7):986-997. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2017.22. Epub 2017 Mar 24.

Dichotomy in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas based on histologic similarities to hilar cholangiocarcinomas.

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Department of Diagnostic Pathology, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan.
Department of Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Surgery, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan.
Department of Gastroenterology, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan.


Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas were classified into two types based on their microscopic appearance. Tumors with histologic similarities to hilar cholangiocarcinomas (predominantly ductal adenocarcinomas with minor tubular components, if present, restricted to the invasive front) were defined as the perihilar type, whereas the others were classified as peripheral cholangiocarcinomas. Among the 47 cases examined in the present study, 26 (55%) were classified as the perihilar type, whereas 21 (45%) were the peripheral type. The perihilar type had higher pT stages and more frequently showed a periductal-infiltrating gross appearance and microscopic perineural infiltration than peripheral cholangiocarcinomas. The presence of low-grade biliary intraepithelial neoplasia in the adjacent bile ducts was only found in perihilar cholangiocarcinomas (6/21, 29%). The immunophenotype also differed between the two types with MUC5AC and MUC6 being more commonly expressed in the perihilar type. One-third of perihilar cholangiocarcinomas lacked the expression of SMAD4, suggesting SMAD4 mutations, whereas the loss of BAP1 expression and IDH1 mutations were almost restricted to the peripheral type (35 and 15%, respectively). Patients with perihilar cholangiocarcinoma had worse overall survival than those with peripheral cancer (P=0.027). A multivariate analysis identified the histologic classification as an independent prognostic factor (P=0.005, HR=3.638). Comparisons between intrahepatic and hilar cholangiocarcinomas also revealed that the molecular features and prognosis of perihilar cholangiocarcinomas were very similar to those of hilar cholangiocarcinomas. In conclusion, this histology-based classification scheme of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas will be useful and clinically relevant because it represents different underlying molecular features and has an independent prognostic value.

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