According to previous research, there is a connection between the steatohepatitic hepatocellular carcinoma (SH-HCC) and metabolic syndrome. Most SH-HCC morphology appears to result from a typical HCC that retains the ability to respond to the metabolic syndrome and develops features of steatohepatitis.
In a recent study, Mayo Clinic researcher, Michael Torbenson, M.D., with researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine, aimed to ask if this is true for all SH-HCC cases, or if the SH-HCC morphology in some cases reflect genetic changes inherent to the HCC itself, as opposed to wide tissue response in liver to the metabolic syndrome. The study was published in the Human Pathology journal.
In the study, 12 SH-HCC cases occurring in individuals without metabolic syndrome were identified and examined pathologically. Genomic microarray analysis was performed in a subset. The SH-HCC in all cases showed diffuse moderate to marked fatty change, abundant balloon cells often containing Mallory-Denk bodies, and pericellular fibrosis.
The clinical and pathological characteristics of these cases did not differ significantly from the cases with the classical HCC morphology. The study results indicate HCC can also develop steatohepatitic morphology outside the setting of fatty liver disease or metabolic syndrome. This SH-HCC is more likely to result from genetic changes to shared genes or metabolic pathways within the tumor and is an ideal subtype for future genetic studies.