Recent evidence suggests that some cancers may originate from cancer stem cells, which may derive from carcinogenesis of normal stem cells. A hepatic progenitor cell population, which gives rise to hepatocytes and cholangiocytes, has been suggested in humans, though whether these cells can give rise to malignant tumors has not been confirmed. We report here a case of an α-fetoprotein (AFP)-producing intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) in an 81-year-old woman with chronic hepatitis C viral infection, suggesting malignant transformation of hepatic stem cells as a mechanism for hepatic neoplasia. Abdominal computed tomography revealed a low-density mass with surrounding enhancement measuring 5 cm x 5 cmin segments IV and VIII of the liver. The preoperative serum levels of tumor markers were 1.7 ng/ml of carcinoembryonic antigen, 22 mAU/ml of protein induced by vitamin K absence or antagonist II, 43.4 U/ml of carbohydrate antigen 19-9, and 1,560 ng/ml of AFP. Following central bisegmentectomy of the liver, serum AFP levels decreased dramatically. Histologically, the tumor cells showed indistinct glandular structures with abundant fibrous stroma. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that the neoplastic cells reacted strongly to antibodies against AFP and cytokeratin (CK) 7. In addition, cancer cells showed partially positive reaction to anti-CK14, a liver stem cell marker, and to anticluster designation (CD) 133, a hematopoietic stem cell marker, and negative reaction to antihepatocyte paraffin (HepPar) 1. These data may indicate that the tumor was derived from a normal liver stem cell that underwent oncogenic transformation.
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