Diagnostic Pathology

, 7:149

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The diagnostic value of arginase-1 immunostaining in differentiating hepatocellular carcinoma from metastatic carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma as compared to HepPar-1

  • Nehal A RadwanAffiliated withPathology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University Email author 
  • , Naglaa S AhmedAffiliated withPathology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University



The ability to distinguish hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from metastatic carcinoma (MC) involving the liver and cholangiocarcinoma (CC) by immunohistochemistry has been limited by the lack of a reliable positive marker for hepatocellular differentiation. Arginase-1 is a marker for HCC recently described in some literature.


To examine the immunohistochemical staining of arginase-1 in cases of HCC, MC involving the liver and CC as compared to hepatocyte paraffin antigen -1 (HepPar-1) in an attempt to further define the diagnostic utility of arginase-1 in differentiating these tumors.

Materials and methods

A comparative immunohistochemical study of arginase-1 and HepPar-1expression was performed in 50 HCC cases, 38 cases of MC to the liver from varying sites, 12 cases of CC and 10 specimens of normal liver tissues. The predictive capacity of arginase-1 and HepPar-1 staining was determined using sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value calculations.


All normal liver tissues (no=10), non- neoplastic cirrhotic liver tissues adjacent to HCC (no=42) as well as those adjacent to MC (no= 9) showed diffuse and strong immunostaining for both arginase-1 and HepPar-1. Arginase-1 demonstrated positive immunoreactivity in 42 of 50 (84%) cases of HCC compared with 35 of 50 (70%) for HepPar-1. Only one of 38 (2.6%) cases of MC and one of 12 (8.3%) cases of CC showed positive immunoreactivity for arginase-1. In contrast, HepPar-1 immunoreactivity was detected in 6 of 38 (15.8%) cases of MC and in 2 of 12 (16.7%) cases of CC. Arginase -1 showed a significantly higher sensitivity for HCC diagnosis (84%) compared to HepPar -1(70%) (p=0.016). The specificity of arginase-1 for HCC diagnosis was higher (96%) than that of HepPar -1 (84%); nevertheless, this was not statistically significant (p=0.109). Howerver, the combination of both immunomarkers for the diagnosis of HCC, raised the specificity to 100%.


Arginase-1 immunostaining has a higher sensitivity and specificity than HepPar-1 for HCC diagnosis. Furthermore, the combined use of arginase-1 and HepPar-1 can provide a potentially promising tool to improve the accuracy in distinguishing HCC from metastatic carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma.

Virtual slides

The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here: http://​www.​diagnosticpathol​ogy.​diagnomx.​eu/​vs/​9991436558072434​.


Arginase-1 HepPar-1 Hepatocellular carcinoma Metastatic carcinoma Cholangiocarcinoma