, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 265-281

Anatomic and molecular pathology of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma

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Abstract

Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) is the second most common malignant tumor of the liver, and ICC is reportedly increasing recently. ICC is usually adenocarcinoma with variable desmoplastic reaction, although there are several special or unusual histological features. ICC may arise at the large intrahepatic bile duct near the hepatic hilus and also from the bile ductules at the border of the hepatic parenchyma. On the anatomical level, the pathology of ICC differs depending on the region from which the ICC arises. At the large intrahepatic bile duct, ICC presents papillary growth and periductal infiltration. Some cases show extensive papillary growth and intraluminal spread with marked gastroenteric metaplasia. Mucus core protein 1 is expressed in aggressive ICC. ICC arising from ductules shares phenotypes of hepatocellular carcinoma. ICC in chronic biliary diseases, particularly arising in hepatolithiasis, presents precancerous lesions that include biliary epithelial dysplasia, as well as in-situ carcinoma. Chronic advanced hepatitis C is one of the background diseases of ICC. Chronic inflammation, with the upregulation of cyclooxygenase-2 and growth factors, and the formation of reactive oxygen species are one of the causative factors in the DNA damage of biliary epithelial cells. K-ras mutation and aberrant expression of p53 are found in one-third of ICCs. The latter may be due to mdm-2 upregulation. Hepatocyte growth factor/met and interleukin 6 (IL6)/IL6 receptor are involved in cell proliferation/mitoinhibition and apoptosis in ICC. Fibrous stroma formation and invasion involve the proliferation of Α-smooth muscle antigen-positive stromal cells, and cell-to-cell and cell-to-matrix interactions involving E-cadherin/catenin and CD44 and matrix proteinases may be involved in the invasion of ICC. Evasion of immune surveillance involving the Fas/FasL system is important in the malignant progression of ICC. Further molecular and genetic studies are mandatory to evaluate the pathogenesis and progression of ICC.