Aims : To identify the role of mucus core protein (MUC) in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC).
Methods and results : We examined the expression profile of MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC6 by immunohistochemical staining in 100 ICCs and compared the clinicopathological factors and the immunohistochemical results. The expression frequency was: MUC2, 9%; MUC5AC, 40%; and MUC6, 21%. According to the gastric mucin expression profile, ICCs were classified into the following groups: null type (n = 43), gastric foveolar type (n = 36), pyloric gland type (n = 11) and gastric combined type (n = 10). Half of the gastric foveolar type and the gastric combined type were located in the hilar region, but the other types were predominant at the periphery (P = 0.0004). Well-differentiated components were more often detected in the gastric combined type and the pyloric gland type (P = 0.0281). The gastric foveolar type was associated with a higher incidence of lymph node metastasis (P < 0.0001). The pyloric gland type was associated with better survival and the gastric foveolar type was associated with worse survival. The gastric mucin phenotype was an independent prognostic factor by multivariate survival analysis.
Conclusion : The gastric foveolar type of ICC was more often associated with aggressive tumour development, whereas the pyloric gland type exhibited less aggressive behaviour.