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, 31 (4), 324-9

Hepatic Stem-Like Cells in Hepatoblastoma: Expression of Cytokeratin 7, Albumin and Oval Cell Associated Antigens Detected by OV-1 and OV-6

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Hepatic Stem-Like Cells in Hepatoblastoma: Expression of Cytokeratin 7, Albumin and Oval Cell Associated Antigens Detected by OV-1 and OV-6

P Ruck et al. Histopathology.

Abstract

Aims: In a recent study we described a population of small epithelial cells (SEC) in human hepatoblastoma that exhibit ultrastructural features of the oval cell of rodents. Both SEC and oval cells are immunoreactive for cytokeratin 7, a marker of biliary differentiation, and it was postulated that SEC, like oval cells, are closely related to hepatic stem cells. This study was undertaken to investigate whether SEC also exhibit immunolabelling for albumin, a marker of hepatocytic differentiation, and to determine whether other antigens typical of oval cells are detectable in hepatoblastoma.

Methods and results: Hepatoblastomas of various subtypes were investigated by electron microscopy, and by immunohistochemistry with the monoclonal antibodies OV-1 and OV-6, which recognize antigens associated with oval cells. Double-labelling for cytokeratin 7 and albumin was carried out by immuno-electron microscopy. OV-1 stained scattered cells in seven of 12 tumours investigated and OV-6 in nine. On immunoelectron-microscopic investigation, SEC exhibited labelling for both cytokeratin 7 and albumin.

Conclusions: The results demonstrate that antigens associated with oval cells are found in certain cells in hepatoblastoma. SEC, like oval cells, co-express markers for hepatocytic and biliary differentiation. The findings further support the hypothesis that SEC are closely related to the putative bipotent hepatic stem cell, which, by definition, gives rise to both hepatocytes and biliary epithelial cells.

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