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1.  Two cases of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma with intrapancreatic metastasis 
World Journal of Gastroenterology  2016;22(41):9222-9228.
There are no standardized diagnostic criteria for intrapancreatic metastasis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Here, we report two cases of patients with PDAC who were pathologically diagnosed as harboring intrapancreatic metastasis. In both cases, the main lesions were located in the pancreatic body, and no other lesion was detected preoperatively. The patients were diagnosed with pancreatic body cancers and distal pancreatectomy was performed. Pathological findings revealed microscopic cancer nests, which had connections to neither the main lesion nor the premalignant lesion in the pancreatic tail parenchyma. In both cases, the histological type of the daughter lesion was quite similar to that of the main lesion. Hence, we diagnosed the daughter lesions as metastatic foci in the pancreas. Although intrapancreatic metastasis of PDAC has been regarded as a poor prognostic factor, few reports of intrapancreatic metastasis are available. This article reports two such cases and provides a review of the literature.
PMCID: PMC5107603  PMID: 27895409
Carcinoma; Pancreatic ductal; Neoplasm micrometastasis; Recurrence; Carcinogenesis
2.  Proposal of a new staging system for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: Analysis of surgical patients from a nationwide survey of the Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan 
Cancer  2015;122(1):61-70.
In the current American Joint Committee on Cancer/International Union Against Cancer staging system (seventh edition) for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), tumor size was excluded, and periductal invasion was added as a new tumor classification‐defining factor. The objective of the current report was to propose a new staging system for ICC that would be better for stratifying the survival of patients based on data from the nationwide Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan database.
Of 756 patients who underwent surgical resection for ICC between 2000 and 2005, multivariate analyses of the clinicopathologic factors of 419 patients who had complete data sets were performed to elucidate relevant factors for inclusion in a new tumor classification and staging system.
Overall survival data were best stratified using a cutoff value of 2 cm using a minimal P value approach to discriminate patient survival. The 5‐year survival rate of 15 patients who had ICC measuring ≤2 cm in greatest dimension without lymph node metastasis or vascular invasion was 100%, and this cohort was defined as T1. Multivariate analysis of prognostic factors for 267 patients with lymph node‐negative and metastasis‐negative (N0M0) disease indicated that the number of tumors, the presence arterial invasion, and the presence major biliary invasion were independent and significant prognostic factors. The proposed new system, which included tumor number, tumor size, arterial invasion, and major biliary invasion for tumor classification, provided good stratification of overall patient survival according to disease stage. Macroscopic periductal invasion was associated with major biliary invasion and an inferior prognosis.
The proposed new staging system, which includes a tumor cutoff size of 2 cm and major biliary invasion, may be useful for assigning patients to surgery. Cancer 2016;122:61–70. © 2015 The Authors. Cancer published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Cancer Society.
The current staging system for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma has been subject to debate. The authors developed a new staging system for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma using complete nationwide data from 419 surgical patients provided by the Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan.
PMCID: PMC5054870  PMID: 26430782
biliary invasion; intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma; periductal invasion; staging system; tumor size
4.  Development of a novel mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis using a high-fat, choline-deficient diet and intraperitoneal injection of diethylnitrosamine 
BMC Gastroenterology  2016;16:61.
The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is increasing, and its clinicopathological features are well established. Several animal models of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis have been developed to facilitate its study; however, few fully recapitulate all its clinical features, which include insulin resistance, inflammation, fibrosis, and carcinogenesis. Moreover, these models require a relatively long time to produce hepatocellular carcinoma reliably. The aim of this study was to develop a mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis that develops quickly and reflects all clinically relevant features.
Three-week-old C57BL/6J male mice were fed either a standard diet (MF) or a choline-deficient, high-fat diet (HFCD). The mice in the MF + diethylnitrosamine (DEN) and HFCD + DEN groups received a one-time intraperitoneal injection of DEN at the start of the respective feeding protocols.
The mice in the HFCD and HFCD + DEN groups developed obesity early in the experiment and insulin resistance after 12 weeks. Triglyceride levels peaked at 8 weeks for all four groups and decreased thereafter. Alanine aminotransferase levels increased every 4 weeks, with the HFCD and HFCD + DEN groups showing remarkably high levels; the HFCD + DEN group presented the highest incidence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The levels of fibrosis and steatosis varied, but they tended to increase every 4 weeks in the HFCD and HFCD + DEN groups. Computed tomography scans indicated that all the HFCD + DEN mice developed hepatic tumors from 20 weeks, some of which were glutamine synthetase-positive.
The nonalcoholic steatohepatitis-hepatocellular carcinoma model we describe here is simple to establish, results in rapid tumor formation, and recapitulates most of the key features of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. It could therefore facilitate further studies of the development, oncogenic potential, diagnosis, and treatment of this condition.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12876-016-0477-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4906823  PMID: 27296438
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Diethylnitrosamine; High-fat choline-deficient diet; Mouse model
5.  Survival Analysis over 28 Years of 173,378 Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Japan 
Liver Cancer  2016;5(3):190-197.
Beginning in 1967, the Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan (LCSGJ) started a nationwide prospective registry of all patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) diagnosed at more than 700 institutions. To determine the effectiveness of surveillance and treatment methods longitudinally, we analyzed improvements over time in overall survival (OS) of 173,378 patients with HCC prospectively entered into the LCSGJ registry between 1978 and 2005.
All patients from more than 700 institutions throughout Japan with HCC were entered into the LCSGJ registry. Patients were grouped by years of diagnosis, with OS and 5-year OS rates being calculated. We also assessed OS and 5-year OS rates in patients who underwent resection, local ablation, transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), and hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy (HAIC) and in those with baseline serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels ≥400 ng/ml.
The 5- and 10-year OS rates in the cohort of 173,378 patients were 37.9% and 16.5%, respectively. However, over time, the mean maximum tumor size decreased significantly, whereas 5-year OS rates and median survival time increased significantly. Similar findings were observed separately in patients who underwent resection, local ablation, TACE, and HAIC, as well as in patients with AFP levels ≥400 ng/ml.
The establishment of a nationwide HCC surveillance program in Japan has contributed to longer median OS and increased OS rates in patients diagnosed with this disease. These findings suggest that the establishment of a surveillance program in other countries with patients at risk for HCC may provide significant survival benefits.
PMCID: PMC4960353  PMID: 27493894
Hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan; Nationwide survey; Overall survival
6.  Survival Benefit of Locoregional Treatment for Hepatocellular Carcinoma with Advanced Liver Cirrhosis 
Liver Cancer  2016;5(3):175-189.
Background & Aims
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with decompensated liver cirrhosis (LC) is a life-threatening condition, which is amenable to liver transplantation (LT) as the standard first-line treatment. However, the application of LT can be limited due to a shortage of donor livers. This study aimed to clarify the effect of non-surgical therapy on the survival of patients with HCC and decompensated LC.
Of the 58,886 patients with HCC registered in the nationwide survey of the Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan (January 2000-December 2005), we included 1,344 patients with primary HCC and Child-Pugh (C-P) grade C for analysis in this retrospective study. Among the patients analyzed, 108 underwent LT, 273 were treated by local ablation therapy (LAT), 370 were treated by transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), and 593 received best supportive care (BSC). The effect of LT, LAT, and TACE on overall survival (OS) was analyzed using multivariate and propensity score analyses.
Patient characteristics did not differ significantly between each treatment group and the BSC group, after propensity score matching. LAT (hazard ratio [HR]) =0.568; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.40-0.80) and TACE (HR=0.691; 95% CI, 0.50-0.96) were identified as significant contributors to OS if the C-P score was less than 11 and tumor conditions met the Milan criteria.
For patients with HCC within the Milan criteria and with a C-P score of 10 or 11, locoregional treatment can be used as a salvage treatment if LT is not feasible.
PMCID: PMC4960362  PMID: 27493893
Best supportive care; Child-Pugh grade C; Local ablation therapy; Transarterial chemoembolization
7.  A humanized anti-CD26 monoclonal antibody inhibits cell growth of malignant mesothelioma via retarded G2/M cell cycle transition 
Malignant Mesothelioma (MM) is a highly aggressive tumor with poor prognosis. Multimodal treatments and novel molecular targeted therapies against MM are in high demand in order treat this disease effectively. We have developed a humanized monoclonal antibody YS110 against CD26 expressed in 85 % of MM cases. CD26 is thought to be involved in tumor growth and invasion by interacting with collagen and fibronectin, or affecting signal transduction processes.
We evaluated the direct anti-tumor effect of YS110 against MM cell lines, NCI-H2452 and JMN, and investigated its effects on cell cycle and on the cell cycle regulator molecules. In addition, we investigated synergistic effects of YS110 and anti-tumor agent pemetrexed (PMX) against MM cell line both in vitro and in vivo.
YS110 suppressed the proliferation of NCI-H2452 cells by approximately 20 % in 48 h. Based on cell cycle analysis, percentage of cells in G2/M phase increased 8.0 % on the average after YS110 treatment; in addition, cell cycle regulator p21 cip/waf1 was increased and cyclin B1 was decreased after YS110 treatment. Inhibitory phosphorylation of both cdc2 (Tyr15) and cdc25C (Ser216) were elevated. Furthermore, activating phosphorylation of p38 MAPK (Thr180/Tyr182) and ERK1/2 (Thr202/Tyr204) were augmented at 24 h after YS110 treatment. PMX rapidly induced CD26 expression on cell surface and the treatment with both YS110 and PMX inhibited in vivo tumor growth accompanied by a synergistic reduction in the MIB-1 index.
This is a first report of a novel anti-proliferative mechanism of the humanized anti-CD26 monoclonal antibody YS110, which resulted in G2/M cell cycle delay through regulation of quantity and activity of various cell cycle regulating molecules.
PMCID: PMC4851800  PMID: 27134571
Mesothelioma; CD26; Monoclonal antibody; G2/M transition; Pemetrexed
8.  Elastin Fiber Accumulation in Liver Correlates with the Development of Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(4):e0154558.
Background & Aims
The fibrosis stage, which is evaluated by the distribution pattern of collagen fibers, is a major predictor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) for patients with hepatitis C. Meanwhile, the role of elastin fibers has not yet been elucidated. The present study was conducted to determine the significance of quantifying both collagen and elastin fibers.
We enrolled 189 consecutive patients with hepatitis C and advanced fibrosis. Using Elastica van Gieson-stained whole-slide images of pretreatment liver biopsies, collagen and elastin fibers were evaluated pixel by pixel (0.46 μm/pixel) using an automated computational method. Consequently, fiber amount and cumulative incidences of HCC within 3 years were analyzed.
There was a significant correlation between collagen and elastin fibers, whereas variation in elastin fiber was greater than in collagen fiber. Both collagen fiber (p = 0.008) and elastin fiber (p < 0.001) were significantly correlated with F stage. In total, 30 patients developed HCC during follow-up. Patients who have higher elastin fiber (p = 0.002) in addition to higher collagen fiber (p = 0.05) showed significantly higher incidences of HCC. With regard to elastin fiber, this difference remained significant in F3 patients. Furthermore, for patients with a higher collagen fiber amount, higher elastin was a significant predictor for HCC development (p = 0.02).
Computational analysis is a novel technique for quantification of fibers with the added value of conventional staging. Elastin fiber is a predictor for the development of HCC independently of collagen fiber and F stage.
PMCID: PMC4851385  PMID: 27128435
9.  Early hepatocellular carcinoma with high‐grade atypia in small vaguely nodular lesions 
Cancer Science  2016;107(4):543-550.
Multistep hepatocarcinogenesis progresses from dysplastic nodules to early hepatocellular carcinoma (eHCC) and to advanced HCC. The aim of the present study was to investigate the detailed histopathological features of eHCC. We investigated 66 small vaguely nodular lesions resected from 40 patients. The degree of cellular and structural atypia and stromal invasion were assessed. The immunohistochemical expression of HCC‐related markers adenylate cyclase‐associated protein 2 (CAP2), heat shock protein 70 (HSP70), Bmi‐1, CD34 and h‐caldesmon were evaluated. Of the 66 nodules, 10 were diagnosed as low‐grade dysplastic nodules (LGDN), 10 as high‐grade dysplastic nodules (HGDN) and 46 as eHCC. Among the 46 eHCC, 18 nodules (39.1%) showed marked stromal invasion and/or the presence of the scirrhous component and were subclassified as high‐grade eHCC (HGeHCC). The remaining 28 eHCC, which lacked these features, were subclassified as low‐grade eHCC (LGeHCC) and were examined further. HGeHCC showed high levels of cellular and structural atypia and large tumor size. The immunohistochemical expression of CAP2 and the area of sinusoidal vascularization showed increases from LGDN to HGeHCC. The density of arterial tumor vessels was high in HGeHCC compared with other nodule types. Cluster analysis of these parameters subclassified 65 nodules into HGeHCC‐dominant, LGeHCC and HGDN‐dominant, and LGDN‐dominant groups. These results indicate the increased malignant potential of HGeHCC and suggest that it is already a transitional stage to advanced HCC. We consider that our grading classification system may be valuable for considering treatment strategies for eHCC around 2 cm in diameter.
PMCID: PMC4832853  PMID: 26797961
Cyclase‐associated protein 2; early hepatocellular carcinoma; high grade; scirrhous component; stromal invasion
10.  Development and Validation of a Novel Fibrosis Marker in Biliary Atresia during Infancy 
Most biliary atresia (BA) patients suffer from liver fibrosis and often require liver transplantation. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a novel fibrosis marker for BA patients aged <1 year—the infant BA liver fibrosis (iBALF) score—subsequent to the previously reported fibrosis marker for BA patients aged ≥1 year.
From three institutions for pediatric surgery, BA patients and their native liver histology examinations performed at the age of <1 year were retrospectively identified and assigned to a development cohort (58 patients and 73 examinations) or validation cohort (92 patients and 117 examinations) according to their institutions. Histological fibrosis stages (F0–F4), blood test results, and clinical information at the time of liver histology examination were reviewed. The iBALF score was determined using multivariate ordered logistic regression analysis and was assessed for its associations with histological fibrosis stages.
The iBALF score equation was composed of natural logarithms, including serum total bilirubin level, blood platelet counts, and days of age. The score revealed a strong correlation with fibrosis stage (r=0.80 and 0.73 in the development and validation cohorts, respectively; P<0.001). The areas under the receiver-operating characteristic curves for diagnosing each fibrosis stage were 0.86–0.94 in the development cohort and 0.86–0.90 in the validation cohort (P<0.001), indicating good diagnostic power. In addition, no patient with an iBALF score >6 (equivalent to F4) at the initial surgery survived with their native liver at 1 year of age (n=9).
The iBALF score that was developed was a good noninvasive marker of native liver fibrosis for BA patients aged <1 year.
PMCID: PMC4816091  PMID: 26583502
11.  Novel Imaging Diagnosis for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Consensus from the 5th Asia-Pacific Primary Liver Cancer Expert Meeting (APPLE 2014) 
Liver Cancer  2015;4(4):215-227.
Current novel imaging techniques in the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), with the latest evidence in this field, was discussed at the Asia-Pacific Primary Liver Cancer Expert (APPLE) meeting held in Taipei, Taiwan, in July 2014. Based on their expertise in a specific area of research, the novel imaging group comprised 12 participants from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China and it included 10 abdominal radiologists, one hepatologist, and one pathologist. The expert participants discussed topics related to HCC imaging that were divided into four categories: (i) detection method, (ii) diagnostic method, (iii) evaluation method, and (iv) functional method. Consensus was reached on 10 statements; specific comments on each statement were provided to explain the rationale for the voting results and to suggest future research directions.
PMCID: PMC4698631  PMID: 26734577
Consensus; Diagnostic imaging; Hepatocellular carcinoma
12.  Computational hepatocellular carcinoma tumor grading based on cell nuclei classification 
Journal of Medical Imaging  2014;1(3):034501.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common histological type of primary liver cancer. HCC is graded according to the malignancy of the tissues. It is important to diagnose low-grade HCC tumors because these tissues have good prognosis. Image interpretation-based computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) systems have been developed to automate the HCC grading process. Generally, the HCC grade is determined by the characteristics of liver cell nuclei. Therefore, it is preferable that CAD systems utilize only liver cell nuclei for HCC grading. This paper proposes an automated HCC diagnosing method. In particular, it defines a pipeline-path that excludes nonliver cell nuclei in two consequent pipeline-modules and utilizes the liver cell nuclear features for HCC grading. The significance of excluding the nonliver cell nuclei for HCC grading is experimentally evaluated. Four categories of liver cell nuclear features were utilized for classifying the HCC tumors. Results indicated that nuclear texture is the dominant feature for HCC grading and others contribute to increase the classification accuracy. The proposed method was employed to classify a set of regions of interest selected from HCC whole slide images into five classes and resulted in a 95.97% correct classification rate.
PMCID: PMC4479247  PMID: 26158066
cancer grading; hepatocellular carcinoma histological images; multifractal computation; multifractal measures; textural feature descriptor; segmentation; classification
13.  Aminopeptidase N Is a Receptor for Tumor-homing Peptides and a Target for Inhibiting Angiogenesis 
Cancer research  2000;60(3):722-727.
Phage that display a surface peptide with the NGR sequence motif home selectively to tumor vasculature in vivo. A drug coupled to an NGR peptide has more potent antitumor effects than the free drug [W. Arap et al., Science (Washington DC), 279: 377–380, 1998]. We show here that the receptor for the NGR peptides in tumor vasculature is aminopeptidase N (APN; also called CD13). NGR phage specifically bound to immunocaptured APN and to cells engineered to express APN on their surface. Antibodies against APN inhibited in vivo tumor homing by the NGR phage. Immunohistochemical staining showed that APN expression is up-regulated in endothelial cells within mouse and human tumors. In another tissue that undergoes angiogenesis, corpus luteum, blood vessels also expressed APN, but APN was not detected in blood vessels of various other normal tissues stained under the same conditions. APN antagonists specifically inhibited angiogenesis in chorioallantoic membranes and in the retina and suppressed tumor growth. Thus, APN is involved in angiogenesis and can serve as a target for delivering drugs into tumors and for inhibiting angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4469333  PMID: 10676659
14.  Consensus report from the 7th International Forum for Liver Magnetic Resonance Imaging 
European Radiology  2015;26:674-682.
Liver-specific MRI is a fast-growing field, with technological and protocol advancements providing more robust imaging and allowing a greater depth of information per examination. This article reports the evidence for, and expert thinking on, current challenges in liver-specific MRI, as discussed at the 7th International Forum for Liver MRI, which was held in Shanghai, China, in October 2013.
Topics discussed included the role of gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI in the differentiation of focal nodular hyperplasia from hepatocellular adenoma and small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from small intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (in patients with chronic liver disease), the differentiation of low-grade dysplastic nodule (DN) from pre-malignant high-grade DN and early HCC, and treatment planning and assessment of treatment response for patients with HCC and colorectal liver metastasis. Optimization of the gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI protocol to gain robust arterial and hepatobiliary phase images was also discussed.
Results and conclusions
Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI demonstrates added value for the detection and characterization of focal liver lesions and shows promise in a number of new indications, including regional liver functional assessment and patient monitoring after therapy; however, more data are needed in some areas, and further developments are needed to translate cutting-edge techniques into clinical practice.
Key Points
• Liver-specific MRI is a fast-growing field, with many technological and protocol advancements.
• Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI demonstrates value for detecting and characterizing focal liver lesions.
• Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI shows promise in regional functional assessment and patient monitoring.
• Further developments are needed to translate cutting-edge techniques into clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC4747985  PMID: 26070500
Gadoxetic acid; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver function tests; Liver neoplasms; Magnetic resonance imaging
15.  Epigenetic clustering of gastric carcinomas based on DNA methylation profiles at the precancerous stage: its correlation with tumor aggressiveness and patient outcome 
Carcinogenesis  2015;36(5):509-520.
Single-CpG resolution genome-wide DNA methylation analysis indicated that distinct DNA methylation profiles are established during field cancerization in gastric mucosae, and such profiles at the precancerous stage are inherited by gastric cancers, thus determining tumor aggressiveness and patient outcome.
The aim of this study was to clarify the significance of DNA methylation alterations during gastric carcinogenesis. Single-CpG resolution genome-wide DNA methylation analysis using the Infinium assay was performed on 109 samples of non-cancerous gastric mucosa (N) and 105 samples of tumorous tissue (T). DNA methylation alterations in T samples relative to N samples were evident for 3861 probes. Since N can be at the precancerous stage according to the field cancerization concept, unsupervised hierarchical clustering based on DNA methylation levels was performed on N samples (βN) using the 3861 probes. This divided the 109 patients into three clusters: A (n = 20), B1 (n = 20), and B2 (n = 69). Gastric carcinomas belonging to Cluster B1 showed tumor aggressiveness more frequently than those belonging to Clusters A and B2. The recurrence-free and overall survival rates of patients in Cluster B1 were lower than those of patients in Clusters A and B2. Sixty hallmark genes for which βN characterized the epigenetic clustering were identified. We then focused on DNA methylation levels in T samples (βT) of the 60 hallmark genes. In 48 of them, including the ADAM23, OLFM4, AMER2, GPSM1, CCL28, DTX1 and COL23A1 genes, βT was again significantly correlated with tumor aggressiveness, and the recurrence-free and/or overall survival rates. Multivariate analyses revealed that βT was a significant prognostic factor, being independent of clinicopathological parameters. These data indicate that DNA methylation profiles at the precancerous stage may be inherited by gastric carcinomas themselves, thus determining tumor aggressiveness and patient outcome.
PMCID: PMC4417340  PMID: 25740824
16.  Enhancing automatic classification of hepatocellular carcinoma images through image masking, tissue changes and trabecular features 
Recent breakthroughs in computer vision and digital microscopy have prompted the application of such technologies in cancer diagnosis, especially in histopathological image analysis. Earlier, an attempt to classify hepatocellular carcinoma images based on nuclear and structural features has been carried out on a set of surgical resected samples. Here, we proposed methods to enhance the process and improve the classification performance.
First, we segmented the histological components of the liver tissues and generated several masked images. By utilizing the masked images, some set of new features were introduced, producing three sets of features consisting nuclei, trabecular and tissue changes features. Furthermore, we extended the classification process by using biopsy resected samples in addition to the surgical samples.
Experiments by using support vector machine (SVM) classifier with combinations of features and sample types showed that the proposed methods improve the classification rate in HCC detection for about 1-3%. Moreover, detection rate of low-grades cancer increased when the new features were appended in the classification process, although the rate was worsen in the case of undifferentiated tumors.
The masking process increased the reliability of extracted nuclei features. The additional of new features improved the system especially for early HCC detection. Likewise, the combination of surgical and biopsy samples as training data could also improve the classification rates. Therefore, the methods will extend the support for pathologists in the HCC diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC4470016  PMID: 26110093
Hepatocellular carcinoma; histopathological image classification; image masking; liver tissue; liver trabecular; support vector machine
20.  Overexpression of Leucine-Rich Repeat-Containing G Protein-Coupled Receptor 5 (LGR5) Represents a Typical Wnt/β-Catenin Pathway-Activated Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Liver Cancer  2014;3(3-4):451-457.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common and most frequently lethal cancers worldwide. Although many advances have been made in the analysis of multistage hepatocarcinogenesis, we still lack information to guide adequate clinical management options for HCC. A large number of genetic alterations occur during hepatocarcinogenesis, and many genetic studies have indicated that one of the most frequently mutated oncogenes found in HCC is β-catenin.
Molecular subclassification of HCC based on gene expression signatures has identified a typical hepatocyte-like subclass of HCC harboring β-catenin mutations; this subclass is characterized by better histological differentiation and a less aggressive nature. We previously identified overexpression of the leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 5 (LGR5), also known as GPR49, in HCC with β-catenin mutations. LGR5 has been indicated as one of the downstream target genes of the Wnt signaling pathway; however, the functional role of LGR5 in cancer is largely unknown. We demonstrated that HCC cells transfected with LGR5 exhibited higher colony forming activity and were more resistant to a cytotoxic drug than the control HCC cells were. Overexpression of LGR5 also retarded cell migration. LGR5-transfected HCC cells formed nodule-type tumors in the livers of immunodeficient mice, whereas control cells formed more invasive tumors. Results of our recent research suggest that aberrant expression of LGR5 could regulate the epithelial cell phenotype and promotes HCC cell survival. HCC cells overexpressing LGR5 seem to represent a typical phenotype of a less aggressive HCC.
Key messages
Recent efforts on the molecular classification of HCC have led us to new strategies for dealing with HCC. These specific signatures may predict the risk of recurrence or the patient survival rate, which affect the outlook and may suggest treatment strategies for HCC patients.
PMCID: PMC4531428  PMID: 26280006
HCC molecular subclassification; HCC typical phenotype; LGR5; LGR5-overexpressing cells; WNT/β-catenin
21.  Lymphoepithelioma-like hepatocellular carcinoma: a case report and a review of the literature 
We report a rare case of lymphoepithelioma-like hepatocellular carcinoma. A 79-year-old Japanese man had undergone curative resection of extrahepatic bile ducts because of bile duct cancer 9 years prior. The bile duct cancer was diagnosed as mucosal adenocarcinoma, and the patient had been followed up every 6 months for the last 9 years. A recent computed tomography examination revealed a tumor, 4.2 cm in size, in the lateral segment of the liver. Based on the imaging findings, the tumor was diagnosed as hepatocellular carcinoma. Serology tests were negative for hepatitis B and C viruses. Chest and abdominal image analyses showed no evidence of metastasis, but a swollen lymph node was noted around the abdominal aorta. The patient subsequently underwent extended lateral segmentectomy and resection of the swollen lymph node. Microscopically, the tumor had the characteristic appearance of poorly differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma. Moreover, an abundant infiltration of inflammatory cells was observed in the tumor. Therefore, we diagnosed the tumor as lymphoepithelioma-like hepatocellular carcinoma. The resected para-aortic lymph node also had a carcinoma with features similar to those of the main tumor. The patient has been alive for 20 months since performance of the surgery. Since the first report of lymphoepithelioma-like hepatocellular carcinoma in 2000, only nine cases have been reported in the medical literature, and the clinicopathological features of the disease have not been well documented. Herein, we describe the clinicopathological features of this case for further understanding of the disease and review past cases in the literature.
PMCID: PMC3654885  PMID: 23642182
Lymphoepithelioma; Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma; Hepatocellular carcinoma
22.  Progressive liver failure induced by everolimus for renal cell carcinoma in a 58-year-old male hepatitis B virus carrier 
A 58-year-old man was diagnosed as a hepatitis B virus (HBV) carrier approximately 30 years ago. He was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma when he was 57 years old. Radical nephrectomy was performed, and everolimus was administered to treat his lung metastasis. After beginning the everolimus, intermittent fever, general fatigue, and jaundice developed. He was admitted under a diagnosis of flare (acute exacerbation) of chronic B hepatitis due to HBV reactivation. Despite intensive care, he died of hepatic failure and fungus infection. The autopsy findings were compatible with hepatic failure due to HBV reactivation by everolimus. Antiviral prophylaxis must be taken into consideration before beginning immunosuppressive therapy such as everolimus in HBV carriers.
PMCID: PMC3627850  PMID: 23606919
Everolimus; Immunosuppressive therapy; Hepatitis B virus; Liver failure; Nucleoside analogue
23.  A serum “sweet-doughnut” protein facilitates fibrosis evaluation and therapy assessment in patients with viral hepatitis 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1065.
Although liver fibrosis reflects disease severity in chronic hepatitis patients, there has been no simple and accurate system to evaluate the therapeutic effect based on fibrosis. We developed a glycan-based immunoassay, FastLec-Hepa, to fill this unmet need. FastLec-Hepa automatically detects unique fibrosis-related glyco-alteration in serum hyperglycosylated Mac-2 binding protein within 20 min. The serum FastLec-Hepa counts increased with advancing fibrosis and illustrated significant differences in medians between all fibrosis stages. FastLec-Hepa is sufficiently sensitive and quantitative to evaluate the effects of PEG-interferon-α/ribavirin therapy in a short post-therapeutic interval. The obtained fibrosis progression is equivalent to -0.30 stages/year in patients with sustained virological response, and 0.01 stages/year in relapse/nonresponders. Furthermore, long-term follow-up of the severely affected patients found hepatocellular carcinoma developed in patients after therapy whose FastLec-Hepa counts remained above a designated cutoff value. FastLec-Hepa is the only assay currently available for clinically beneficial therapy evaluation through quantitation of disease severity.
PMCID: PMC3545220  PMID: 23323209
24.  Color correction for automatic fibrosis quantification in liver biopsy specimens 
For a precise and objective quantification of liver fibrosis, quantitative evaluations through image analysis have been utilized. However, manual operations are required in most cases for extracting fiber areas because of color variation included in digital pathology images.
The purpose of this research is to propose a color correction method for whole slide images (WSIs) of Elastica van Gieson (EVG) stained liver biopsy tissue specimens and to realize automated operation of image analysis for fibrosis quantification.
Materials and Methods:
Our experimental dataset consisted of 38 WSIs of liver biopsy specimens collected from 38 chronic viral hepatitis patients from multiple medical facilities, stained with EVG and scanned at ×20 using a Nano Zoomer 2.0 HT (Hamamatsu Photonics K.K., Hamamatsu, Japan). Color correction was performed by modifying the color distribution of a target WSI so as to fit to the reference, where the color distribution was modeled by a set of two triangle pyramids. Using color corrected WSIs; fibrosis quantification was performed based on tissue classification analysis.
Statistical Analysis Used:
Spearman's rank correlation coefficients were calculated between liver stiffness measured by transient elastography and median area ratio of collagen fibers calculated based on tissue classification results.
Statistical analysis results showed a significant correlation r = 0.61-0.68 even when tissue classifiers were trained by using a subset of WSIs, while the correlation coefficients were reduced to r = 0.40-0.50 without color correction.
Fibrosis quantification accompanied with the proposed color correction method could provide an objective evaluation tool for liver fibrosis, which complements semi-quantitative histologic evaluation systems.
PMCID: PMC3908497  PMID: 24524002
Color correction; fibrosis quantification; liver biopsy; tissue classification; whole slide image
25.  Li-Fraumeni syndrome with simultaneous osteosarcoma and liver cancer: Increased expression of a CD44 variant isoform after chemotherapy 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:444.
Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is a hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome that is commonly associated with a germline mutation in the tumor suppressor gene p53. Loss of p53 results in increased expression of CD44, a cancer stem cell (CSC) marker, which is involved in the scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Here, we report a change in the expression of a CD44 variant isoform (CD44v8-10) in an 8-year-old female LFS patient with osteosarcoma and atypical liver cancer after chemotherapy.
Case presentation
The patient visited a clinic with a chief complaint of chronic pain in a bruise on her right knee. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) raised the possibility of a bone malignancy. Biochemical testing also revealed significantly elevated levels of AFP, which strongly suggested the existence of a primary malignancy in the liver. MRI imaging showed the simultaneous development of osteosarcoma and liver cancer, both of which were confirmed upon biopsy. Combined therapy with surgical resection after chemotherapy was successful in this patient. Regardless of the absence of a familial history of hereditary cancer, a germline mutation in p53 was identified (a missense mutation defined as c.722 C>T, p.Ser241Phe). To better understand the cancer progression and response to treatment, immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis of biopsy specimens obtained before and after chemotherapy was performed using a specific antibody against CD44v8-10.
This case demonstrates the ectopic up-regulation of CD44v8-10 in a biopsy sample obtained after cytotoxic chemotherapy, which confers high levels of oxidative stress on cancer cells. Because the alternative splicing of CD44 is tightly regulated epigenetically, it is possible that micro-environmental stress resulting from chemotherapy caused the ectopic induction of CD44v8-10 in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3488581  PMID: 23031740
Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS); cancer stem cells (CSCs); CD44 variant isoforms

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