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Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2020 Mar;28(3):243-248. doi: 10.1097/PAI.0000000000000793.

Nodular Regenerative Hyperplasia: Expression Pattern of Glutamine Synthetase and a Potential Role for Hepatic Progenitor Cells.

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Service of Pathology, University of Montreal Health Network.
Department of Medicine, Service of Gastroenterology, Montreal, QC, Canada.


Nodular regenerative hyperplasia (NRH) is one of the most frequent causes of noncirrhotic intrahepatic hypertension, but is a difficult histologic diagnosis. The expression of glutamine synthetase (GS) and cytokeratin 7 (CK7) has been reported to be increased in other regenerative/vascular conditions, while CK7 and BerEP4 are also markers of hepatic progenitor cells. The aims of this study were to investigate the use of GS, CK7, and BerEP4 as the potential markers for NRH. This is a retrospective case series of NRH at Centre Hospitalier de l'Universite de Montreal between 1993 and 2013. Normal liver from partial hepatectomies for tumors were used as controls. GS, CK7, CK19, and BerEP4 immunohistochemical stains were performed on all specimens. Immunohistochemical staining patterns were scored from 0 to 3+. NRH was identified in 46 samples obtained from 26 patients. Liver chemistry profile was cholestatic in 45% of the patients. In 93% of the NRH cases, there was abnormal zone 2 expression of GS. Weak panacinar GS staining was seen in all the NRH cases. Aberrant CK7 expression was present in all cases of NRH, but were not associated with cholestasis. BerEP4 was overexpressed in 47% of the NRH cases (P<0.05); all cases with diffuse BerEP4 staining also showed extensive CK7 expression (P<0.01). NRH showed increased immunohistochemical GS staining that may support its morphologic diagnosis. Our findings suggest that there is an activation of hepatic progenitor cells in NRH.

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