Convergent genomic diversity and novel BCAA metabolism in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma

Br J Cancer. 2023 Jun;128(12):2206-2217. doi: 10.1038/s41416-023-02256-4. Epub 2023 Apr 19.


Background: Driver alterations may represent novel candidates for driver gene-guided therapy; however, intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) with multiple genomic aberrations makes them intractable. Therefore, the pathogenesis and metabolic changes of ICC need to be understood to develop new treatment strategies. We aimed to unravel the evolution of ICC and identify ICC-specific metabolic characteristics to investigate the metabolic pathway associated with ICC development using multiregional sampling to encompass the intra- and inter-tumoral heterogeneity.

Methods: We performed the genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic analysis of 39-77 ICC tumour samples and eleven normal samples. Further, we analysed their cell proliferation and viability.

Results: We demonstrated that intra-tumoral heterogeneity of ICCs with distinct driver genes per case exhibited neutral evolution, regardless of their tumour stage. Upregulation of BCAT1 and BCAT2 indicated the involvement of 'Val Leu Ile degradation pathway'. ICCs exhibit the accumulation of ubiquitous metabolites, such as branched-chain amino acids including valine, leucine, and isoleucine, to negatively affect cancer prognosis. We revealed that this metabolic pathway was almost ubiquitously altered in all cases with genomic diversity and might play important roles in tumour progression and overall survival.

Conclusions: We propose a novel ICC onco-metabolic pathway that could enable the development of new therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / genetics
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Proteomics
  • Transaminases


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • BCAT1 protein, human
  • Transaminases