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In situ hybridisation for albumin RNA in paediatric liver cancers compared with common immunohistochemical markers


Aims In situ hybridisation (ISH) for albumin mRNA is a sensitive marker of primary liver tumours in adults. However, paediatric tumours, such as hepatoblastoma (HB) and fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma (FLC), have not been tested thoroughly and may require ancillary tests to diagnose with confidence. We aim to determine if albumin ISH is useful in the pathological evaluation of these malignancies and to compare it to commonly used immunohistochemical markers HepPar 1 (HEPA) and arginase-1 (ARG).

Methods Tissue microarrays of 26 HB and 10 FLC were constructed. Controls included 4 embryonal undifferentiated sarcomas of the liver, 51 neuroblastomas and 64 Wilms tumours. We evaluated a commercially available RNA ISH to detect albumin mRNA. Immunohistochemistry for HEPA and ARG was performed in the usual fashion.

Results Twenty-six of 26 HB showed positive staining by albumin ISH including 14 fetal, 8 embryonal and 4 mixed variants. All 10 FLC were diffusely positive. The sensitivity and specificity of albumin ISH were 100% for HB and FLC. ARG had 100% sensitivity and specificity for HB (26 of 26 cases) and FLC (9 of 9). HEPA stained 22 of 26 HB (85% sensitivity, 99.2% specificity) and 7 of 9 FLC (78% sensitivity, 99.1% specificity).

Conclusion Albumin RNA ISH is a useful test to determine hepatocytic origin in HB and FLC. ARG was equally sensitive and easy to interpret, while HEPA was inferior to both in HB and FLC.

  • liver neoplasms
  • pediatrics
  • in situ hybridisation

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