BACKGROUND: The recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after hepatectomy is a serious event. It has been demonstrated that different ground-glass hepatocyte (GGH) patterns harbor specific hepatitis B virus (HBV) pre-S deletion mutants and represent preneoplastic lesions in chronic HBV infection. In the current study, the authors investigated whether a specific GGH pattern in nontumorous liver tissues was associated with the recurrence of HBV-related HCC after surgery. METHODS: Clinicopathologic data from 82 patients with HBV-related HCC were reviewed. GGH patterns were assessed on hematoxylin and eosin-stained sections. Tissue hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) expression was evaluated by immunohistochemical staining. Serum profiles of pre-S status, viral load, and HBV genotype were determined and correlated with clinical recurrence and survival after surgery. RESULTS: The results indicated that the clustered pattern of GGHs or HBsAg expression was associated significantly with decreased local recurrence-free survival (LRFS) during a mean follow-up of 46.4 months (P<.001). This biomarker was comparable to or better than the prognostic value of other parameters, such as multifocal tumors (P =.022), satellite nodules (P =.005), small cell dysplasia (P =.045), or elevated viral load (P =.027), to predict recurrent HCC. Multivariate analysis also revealed that type II GGHs, which expressed marginal HBsAg and consistently clustered in nodules, were independent variables associated with LRFS (P<.001) and overall survival (P =.003). CONCLUSIONS: The current results indicated that the assessment of GGH patterns or HBsAg expression in nontumorous liver tissues provides an easily recognized, new risk marker for the recurrence of HBV-related HCC after hepatic resection.
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