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Keywords:

  • AGR2;
  • biliary tree;
  • cholangiocarcinoma;
  • extrahepatic;
  • hilar;
  • intrahepatic;
  • liver

Abstract

Background: The anterior gradient protein-2 (AGR2) is overexpressed in numerous tumours such as breast, prostate or pancreas carcinomas and recently reported in fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Aims: In the present study, we further describe AGR2 expression patterns all along the adult and fetal biliary tree and in cholangiocarcinomas.

Methods: Immunohistochemistry using anti-AGR2 antibodies was performed in adult and fetal livers, gallbladders as well as cholangiocarcinomas and HCCs.

Results: In adult and fetal liver, the tall epithelial cells covering the large bile ducts as well as gallbladder epithelial cells showed strong AGR2 staining. Hilar and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas, and a subset of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas, which displayed a morphological mucus-excreting feature, also displayed AGR2 expression. In contrast, AGR2 expression was not detected in typical HCCs.

Conclusion: Our study shows that the differential expression of AGR2 is a phenotypic feature of the cholangiocytes covering different segments of the biliary tree. This pattern of expression is conserved during fetal and adult life, as well as during biliary carcinogenesis.