Hepatocellular adenomas: review of pathological and molecular features

Hum Pathol. 2021 Jun:112:128-137. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2020.11.016. Epub 2020 Dec 9.


Hepatocellular adenoma (HCA) is a rare benign liver neoplasm which predominantly occurs in women in the reproductive age group taking oral contraception. Since 2002, the terminology HCA has defined an heterogeneous group of neoplastic benign hepatocellular proliferations composed of different subtypes. The genotype-phenotype classification led to the description of 5 well-recognized subtypes based on morphological and immunophenotypical features, that are currently used in practice: HNF1A inactivated HCA, inflammatory HCA, β-catenin mutated HCA, sonic hedgehog HCA, and unclassified HCA. The main complications observed in HCAs are bleeding and malignant transformation. Risk of malignant transformation into hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), more frequent in men, is also dependent to tumor size and HCA subtype, reaching 40% in β-catenin mutated HCA. The distinction of HCA from well-differentiated HCC remains difficult in some cases, leading to the diagnosis of so-called "atypical/borderline HCA". The management of HCA is now based on multidisciplinary approach including clinicians, radiologists, and pathologists integrating gender, tumor size, and HCA subtyping.

Keywords: Atypical hepatocellular adenoma; Beta-catenin hepatocellular adenoma; HNF1α hepatocellular adenoma; Hepatocellular adenoma; Inflammatory hepatocellular adenoma; Sonic hedgehog hepatocellular adenoma; Unclassified hepatocellular adenoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / diagnosis
  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / genetics*
  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*