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Oval Cell Numbers in Human Chronic Liver Diseases Are Directly Related to Disease Severity

Authors
Journal
American Journal Of Pathology
0002-9440
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
154
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0002-9440(10)65299-6
Keywords
  • Oval Cells In Human Chronic Liver Diseases
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine

Abstract

The risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma is significantly increased in patients with genetic hemochromatosis, alcoholic liver disease, or chronic hepatitis C infection. The precise mechanisms underlying the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in these conditions are not well understood. Stem cells within the liver, termed oval cells, are involved in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma in animal models and may be important in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in human chronic liver diseases. The aims of this study were to determine whether oval cells could be detected in the liver of patients with genetic hemochromatosis, alcoholic liver disease, or chronic hepatitis C, and whether there is a relationship between the severity of the liver disease and the number of oval cells. Oval cells were detected using histology and immunohistochemistry in liver biopsies from patients with genetic hemochromatosis, alcoholic liver disease, or chronic hepatitis C. Oval cells were not observed in normal liver controls. Oval cell numbers increased significantly with the progression of disease severity from mild to severe in each of the diseases studied. We conclude that oval cells are frequently found in subjects with genetic hemochromatosis, alcoholic liver disease, or chronic hepatitis C. There is an association between severity of liver disease and increase in the number of oval cells consistent with the hypothesis that oval cell proliferation is associated with increased risk for development of hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic liver disease.

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