Neoangiogenesis and sinusoidal "capillarization" in dysplastic nodules of the liver

Am J Surg Pathol. 1998 Jun;22(6):656-62. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199806000-00002.


The blood supply of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is primarily arterial. Recent studies reported differences of vascular, especially arterial, supply among low- and high-grade dysplastic nodules and HCC. We assessed arterialization using monoclonal antibody specific for smooth muscle actin as well as simultaneous changes in sinusoidal capillarization in cirrhotic nodules, dysplastic nodules, and HCC. We immunohistochemically stained 56 cirrhotic nodules, 20 low-grade dysplastic nodules, 27 high-grade dysplastic nodules, and 20 HCCs for alpha smooth muscle actin (to identify unpaired arteries (i.e., arteries not accompanied by bile ducts) and CD34 (indicating sinusoidal capillarization). Distribution and number of unpaired arteries and distribution of sinusoidal capillarization were graded semiquantitatively. Unpaired arteries were rare in cirrhotic nodules, significantly more common in dysplastic nodules of both types (p < 0.00001), and most common in HCC. Sinusoidal capillarization was least common in cirrhotic nodules, significantly more common in dysplastic nodules (p < 0.0035), and most common in HCC. No topographic relationship between unpaired arteries and sinusoidal capillarization was identified. These findings showed that (1) distributions of sinusoidal capillarization and unpaired arteries in dysplastic nodules are intermediate between those in cirrhotic nodules and HCC, supporting dysplastic nodules as premalignant lesions; (2) unpaired arteries are histologically useful for distinguishing dysplastic nodules from large cirrhotic nodules; and (3) areas of sinusoidal capillarization within dysplastic nodules are unrelated to location of arterialization.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / blood supply*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / blood supply*
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology


  • Actins
  • Antigens, CD34