Genetics and imaging of hepatocellular adenomas: 2011 update

Radiographics. 2011 Oct;31(6):1529-43. doi: 10.1148/rg.316115527.


Hepatocellular adenomas are benign liver neoplasms with specific but varied histopathologic findings and tumor biology. The results from recent studies of the pathologic and genetic basis of hepatocellular adenomas provide important insights into the pathogenesis and molecular changes, as well as the putative oncologic pathways used by diverse adenoma subtypes. On the basis of the genetic and pathologic features, hepatocellular adenomas are categorized into three distinct subtypes: (a) inflammatory hepatocellular adenomas, (b) hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 α-mutated hepatocellular adenomas, and (c) β-catenin-mutated hepatocellular adenomas. Different subtypes show variable clinical behavior, imaging findings, and natural history, and thus the options for treatment and surveillance may vary. Cross-sectional imaging plays an important role in the diagnosis, subtype characterization, identification of complications, and surveillance of hepatocellular adenomas. New schemas for genotype-phenotype classification of hepatic adenomas, as well as management triage of patients with specific subtypes of adenomas, are being proposed in an attempt to improve clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / classification
  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / diagnosis*
  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / genetics*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Genotype
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-alpha / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / classification
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • beta Catenin / genetics


  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-alpha
  • beta Catenin