The formation of capsule and septum in human hepatocellular carcinoma
The formation of fibrous capsule around the cancer nodule and of the septum in the tumor is frequently observed with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We aimed to clarify how the capsule and septum were formed during the growth of HCC. Liver samples surgically resected from 25 patients with HCC were studied with in situ hybridization for type-I, -III, and -IV procollagen. Type-I and -III procollagen-expressing cells, mostly α-smooth muscle actin (SMA)-positive, were increased in the fibrous capsule and in the septum between HCC nodules. These cells were also found at the invasion front of HCC and around the necrotic cancer tissues. Type-IV procollagen gene expression was mainly observed in mesenchymal cells localized in both HCCs and non-cancerous liver. Cancer cells or hepatocytes did not express any of these procollagen genes. The present study reveals that the capsule and septum are mainly formed by α-SMA-positive mesenchymal cells at the interface between two different tissues (e.g., cancer nodule vs non-cancerous liver or another cancer nodule). The wound healing occurs even in HCC. The capsule formation may result from interaction between tumor and host liver and interfere the growth and invasion of HCC.
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