Pathology of peripheral intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma with reference to tumorigenesis


Professor Yasuni Nakanuma, Department of Human Pathology, Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medicine, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan. Email:


Cholangiocarcinomas (CCs) are neoplasms with cholangiocyte differentiation, and may arise from cholangiocytes of the biliary tree and possibly cholangiocyte progenitor cells. Intrahepatic CCs can be divided into the perihilar and peripheral types. Peripheral CCs present grossly as a mass forming tumor, and histologically as an adenocarcinoma of varying shapes and phenotypes. Some peripheral CCs (ductular type) are characterized by: (i) a histological resemblance to reactive bile ductules; (ii) the expression of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) and vimentin. This type shows: (i) grossly, a blurred border; and (ii) histologically, carcinoma cells replacing the adjoining hepatocytes at the border of the tumor. It is frequently associated with neutrophilic infiltration and also with granulocyte and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factors. We propose to call this type “ductular CC.” The other peripheral CC (duct type) includes ordinary adenocarcinoma with well to moderately differentiated tubular and micropapillary patterns and is negative for NCAM but positive for mucin. This type can be called “duct CC,” and shows a rather compressive growth. Interestingly, CC components of combined hepatocellular CC share the features of ductular CC, suggesting that hepatic progenitor cells may be involved in the tumorigenesis of ductular CC. The biological behavior of ductular CC and duct CC remains obscure, and follow-up and molecular studies on these tumors are required in order for these two CCs to be recognized as disease entities, and so as to evaluate their carcinogenesis.