Clonality in hepatocellular carcinoma: Analysis of methylation pattern of polymorphic X–chromosome-linked phosphoglycerate kinase gene in females



Analysis of X-chromosome inactivation patterns in women has been used to assess the clonality of various tumors. In this report, we analyzed 27 liver tumors in women, including 18 samples obtained by the performance of ultrasonically guided thin-needle biopsies. By analysis of the heterogeneity of phosphoglycerate kinase gene, 11 of 27 (41%) cases were found to be heterozygous at the gene. Of these informative 11 cases with liver tumors, 7 cases were “large” tumors (>25 mm in diameter) and 4 cases were “small” tumors (<25 mm in diameter). All 7 large tumors showed monoclonal patterns by the phosphoglycerate kinase gene analysis. Of the 4 small tumors, 2 showed monoclonal, and 2 showed polyclonal patterns. The 2 with monoclonal patterns were pathologically diagnosed as hepatocellular carcinoma despite their small sizes (20 mm and 23 mm). Of the two with polyclonal patterns, the smallest one (15 mm) was diagnosed as benign adenomatous hyperplasia, and the other as hepatocellular carcinoma heavily infiltrated by lymphocytes. These data suggest that analysis of the methylation pattern of the phosphoglycerate kinase gene may be helpful on rare occasions in elucidating the nature of liver tumors but must in fact be used in conjunction with histological appearances to avoid errors secondary to inflammatory infiltrates. (HEPATOLOGY 1995; 22:112–117.)