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Concurrent Evaluation of p53, β-Catenin, and α-Fetoprotein Expression in Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Michael Torbenson MD, Rajesh Kannangai MD, Susan Abraham MD, Fikret Sahin MD, PhD, Michael Choti MD, Jianzhou Wang MD, PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/YH0H3FKYM4RMU1JF 377-382 First published online: 1 September 2004


Recent models suggest that hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) develops through several independent pathways marked by key mutations in the β-catenin or p53 gene. An additional pathway potentially is marked by aberrant expression of α-fetoprotein (AFP). To see whether these potential markers are expressed independently, we immunostained sequential sections from 55 HCCs. Of the cases, 30 (55%) were positive for 1 or more proteins: AFP, 19 cases (35%); p53, 12 cases (22%); and β-catenin, 9 cases (16%). Seven tumors (13%) were positive for more than 1 protein, with 4 of 7 positive in the same area of tumor and 3 of 7 positive in different areas of the carcinomas. By statistical analysis, expression of the markers was independent of one another and of tumor size. Concurrent evaluation of p53, β-catenin, and AFP protein expression showed no associations, supporting models in which these proteins might serve as markers of independent pathways in the development of HCC.

Key Words:
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • α-Fetoprotein
  • p53
  • β-Catenin