Background Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate whether c-Src is involved in carcinogenesis and progression of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Methods: We designed an immunohistochemical study using Clone 28, an antibody that specifically recognizes the activated form of c-Src. Results: Hepatocytes in normal liver, chronic hepatitis with or without cirrhosis, atypical adenomatous hyperplasia, as well as bile ductular cells, and infiltrating mononuclear cells were all negative for immunohistochemical staining for the activated c-Src. Among 87 cases of HCC tested, 40 (46%) were positively stained for the activated c-Src, and this positive staining was inversely correlated with the Ki-67 labeling index (LI) (P = 0.0031), intrahepatic metastasis (P = 0.0099), TNM stage (P = 0.0062), alpha-fetoprotein (P = 0.0103) and epidermal growth factor-receptor expression (P = 0.0153). Positive staining for the activated c-Src was more frequently observed in well- or moderately-differentiated carcinoma (P = 0.0256). In multivariate analysis, the activated c-Src expression was independently related to the Ki-67 LI (P = 0.0197). In contrast to positive staining in HCC, cholangiocarcinoma were classified as negative in all 19 cases examined. Conclusions: These results strongly suggest the involvement of activated c-Src in early stages of HCC, and suggest that cholangiocarcinoma might employ different signaling mechanisms.
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