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Canalicular immunostaining of aminopeptidase N (CD13) as a diagnostic marker for hepatocellular carcinoma
  1. C Röcken,
  2. J Licht,
  3. A Roessner,
  4. S Carl-McGrath
  1. Department of Pathology, Otto-von-Guericke-University, Leipziger Str. 44, D-39120 Magdeburg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor C Röcken
 Department of Pathology, Otto-von-Guericke-University, Leipziger Str. 44, D-39120 Magdeburg, Germany;


Background: Aminopeptidase N (CD13) is expressed in normal and neoplastic liver tissue, where it exhibits a characteristic canalicular pattern (CD13can), similar to that seen for CD10 and when antibodies crossreact with biliary glycoprotein I (p-CEA).

Aim: To compare the putative diagnostic use of CD13can in differentiating between hepatocellular (HCC) and non-hepatocellular carcinomas metastatic to the liver (non-HCC).

Methods: A retrospective study comparing 53 HCC specimens with 32 non-HCC specimens. Immunostaining was performed with HepPar1 and antibodies directed against CD10, CD13, p-CEA, and α fetoprotein (AFP).

Results: In the HCC group, a canalicular staining pattern was found for CD13, p-CEA, and CD10 in 51, 43, and 33 specimens, respectively. HepPar1 was positive in 29 and AFP in 17 HCC specimens. In the non-HCC group, canalicular immunostaining for CD10 and p-CEA was confined to non-neoplastic liver tissue. One poorly differentiated cholangiocarcinoma showed apical expression of CD13, resembling to some extent CD13can. Sensitivity and specificity were 96.2% and 97.0%, respectively, for CD13can, 81.1% and 100% for p-CEAcan, 62.3% and 100%, for CD10can, 54.7% and 99.9% for HepPar1, and 32.1% and 100% for AFP.

Conclusions: These results show that CD13can is more sensitive in differentiating between HCC and non-HCC than CD10can, p-CEAcan, HepPar1, and AFP.

  • AFP, α fetoprotein
  • can, canalicular pattern
  • CD13, aminopeptidase N
  • DAB, 3,3-diaminobenzidinetetrahydrochloride
  • HCC, hepatocellular carcinoma
  • p-CEA, antibody that crossreacts with biliary glycoprotein I
  • RT, room temperature
  • liver
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • aminopeptidase N
  • CD13

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