Molecular characterization of the vascular features of focal nodular hyperplasia and hepatocellular adenoma: A role for angiopoietin-1

Authors

  • Annette S. H. Gouw,

    Corresponding author
    1. Pathology Section, Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    • Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, 9700 RB Groningen, the Netherlands
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    • fax: +31 50 3619107

  • Wenjiao Zeng,

    1. Pathology Section, Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Pathology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
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  • Marijke Buiskool,

    1. Pathology Section, Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
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  • Inge Platteel,

    1. Pathology Section, Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
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  • Marius C. van den Heuvel,

    1. Pathology Section, Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Pathology, Public Health Care Laboratory, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands
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  • Sibrand Poppema,

    1. Pathology Section, Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
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  • Koert P. de Jong,

    1. Division of Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation, Department of Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
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  • Grietje Molema

    1. Medical Biology Section, Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
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  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

Abstract

Focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH) and hepatocellular adenoma (HCA) are two hepatic nodular lesions of different etiologies. FNH, a polyclonal lesion, is assumed to be a regenerative reaction following a vascular injury, whereas HCA is a monoclonal, benign neoplastic lesion. In addition to features that are predominantly found in either FNH or HCA (e.g., dystrophic vessels in FNH and single arteries in HCA), FNH and HCA share morphological vascular abnormalities such as dilated sinusoids. We hypothesized that these anomalous vascular features are associated with altered expression of growth factors involved in vascular remodeling. This was based on reports of morphologically abnormal hepatic vasculature and nodular lesions in transgenic models of hepatocytic overexpression of angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1), a member of the angiopoietin family, which is crucially involved in vascular morphogenesis and homeostasis. We investigated gene and protein expression of members of the angiopoietin system and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and its receptors in 9 FNH samples, 13 HCA samples, and 9 histologically normal livers. In comparison with normal samples, a significant increase in Ang-1 was found in FNH (P < 0.01) and HCA (P < 0.05), whereas no significant changes in Ang-2, receptor tyrosine kinase with immunoglobulin-like and EGF-like domains 2, VEGF-A, or vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) were observed. Conclusion: Because of the different etiological contexts of a preceding vascular injury in FNH and a neoplastic growth in HCA, Ang-1 might exert different effects on the vasculature in these lesions. In FNH, it could predominantly stimulate recruitment of myofibroblasts and result in dystrophic vessels, whereas in HCA, it may drive vascular remodeling that produces enlarged vessels and arterial sprouting that generates single arteries. Hepatology 2010

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