Background: Patients suffering from hepatic metastases of neuroendocrine tumors (NET) are potential candidates for orthotopic liver transplantation. Because recurrence rates are high and outcome is variable, prognostic indicators are required. The aim of our study was to identify predictors of long-term survival with a focus on the impact of tumor biology.
Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 19 patients who received an orthotopic liver graft for metastatic NET at the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover. Expression of Ki67, E-cadherin, and p53 was studied immunohistochemically in metastases of neuroendocrine tumors of the explanted livers.
Results: Patients were followed up to 146 months after liver transplantation. Six patients died during follow-up. The resulting 1-, 5-, and 10-year survival rates are 89%, 80%, and 50%, respectively. All deaths during long-term follow-up were tumor-associated. Recurrence was diagnosed in 12 patients between 2 weeks and 48 months after liver transplantation. Three patients are without tumor recurrence more than 8 years after liver transplantation. Survival in the 5 patients with low Ki67 and regular E-cadherin staining was significantly better than in the 12 patients with high Ki67 or aberrant E-cadherin expression (7-year survival 100% vs. 0%, respectively, log rank P=0.007). p53 expression did not significantly improve prognostic accuracy.
Conclusions: We conclude that analysis of Ki67 and E-cadherin expression may improve the identification of patients with a favorable prognosis after liver transplantation for metastatic neuroendocrine tumors.