Hepatocellular adenomas: magnetic resonance imaging features as a function of molecular pathological classification

Hepatology. 2008 Sep;48(3):808-18. doi: 10.1002/hep.22417.


Hepatocellular adenomas (HCAs) are a group of benign tumors forming three molecular pathological subgroups: (1) hepatocyte nuclear factor 1alpha (HNF-1alpha)-inactivated, (2) beta-catenin-activated, and (3) inflammatory. Some HCAs present both beta-catenin activation and inflammation. We analyzed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data for correlations between features on imaging and pathological classification of HCAs. We included 50 cases for which pathology specimens were classified into three groups based on immunohistochemical staining. Two characteristic MRI profiles were identified corresponding to HNF-1alpha-inactivated and inflammatory HCAs. Fifteen HCAs were HNF-1alpha-inactivated. The corresponding lesions showed (1) diffuse signal dropout on T1-weighted chemical shift sequence due to steatosis, (2) isosignal or slight hypersignal on T2-weighted (T2W) images, and (3) moderate enhancement in the arterial phase, with no persistent enhancement in the portal venous and delayed phases. For the diagnosis of HNF-1alpha-inactivated HCA, the positive predictive value of homogeneous signal dropout on chemical shift images was 100%, the negative predictive value was 94.7%, the sensitivity was 86.7%, and the specificity was 100%. Twenty-three HCAs were inflammatory and showed (1) an absence or only focal signal dropout on chemical shift sequence; (2) marked hypersignal on T2W sequences, with a stronger signal in the outer part of the lesions, correlating with sinusoidal dilatation areas; and (3) strong arterial enhancement, with persistent enhancement in the portal venous and delayed phases. Marked hypersignal on T2W sequences associated with delayed persistent enhancement had a positive predictive value of 88.5%, a negative predictive value of 84%, a sensitivity of 85.2%, and a specificity of 87.5% for the diagnosis of inflammatory HCA.

Conclusion: HNF-1alpha-mutated HCAs and inflammatory HCAs were associated with specific MRI patterns related to diffuse fat repartition and sinusoidal dilatation, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / classification*
  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / metabolism
  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Female
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-alpha / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / classification*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-alpha
  • beta Catenin