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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1988 Nov 16;80(18):1480-5.

Changes in ploidy distributions in human liver carcinogenesis.

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Department of Tissue Culture, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo, Norway.


Cellular and nuclear DNA content was measured by flow cytometry and the fraction of binucleated cells by fluorescence microscopy in normal adult human livers, hepatocellular carcinomas, cirrhotic livers surrounding tumors, and in some benign liver conditions. In five normal livers about one-half of the hepatocytes were polyploid; the majority of these were binucleated tetraploids containing two diploid nuclei. Thus, polyploidization in human liver does not progress as far as, for example, in the rat, where 80%-90% of adult hepatocytes are polyploid, mostly with tetraploid or octoploid nuclei. In five human euploid hepatocellular carcinomas and one investigated case of focal nodular hyperplasia, the percentage of polyploid cells was significantly reduced. Four other carcinomas exhibited a prominent aneuploid (hypotetraploid) peak in addition to the diploid peak. An abnormally low fraction of binucleated cells was also indicated in these tumors. Liver tissue surrounding the tumors had a ploidy distribution similar to that of normal liver. The results suggest that, like in several models of experimental hepatocarcinogenesis, human hepatocellular tumor growth is associated with a decreased polyploidization tendency and a corresponding increase in diploid, divisional growth, which may give the tumors a growth advantage relative to the surrounding liver.

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