The ultrastructure of primary hepatocellular cancer in man

Zs Schaff, K. Lapis, L. Sáfrány

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The authors carried out an electronmicroscopical study of material obtained by needle biopsy from 12 human hepatocellular carcinomas. Pleomorphism of the cell nuclei and the occurrence in great numbers of cytoplasmic infoldings into the nuclei were striking features. The nucleoli were enlarged and nucleoli of a peculiar target-like form were observed. The endoplasmic reticulum had a vesicularized, fragmented appearance and the membranes were degranulated. The frequent occurrence of fingerprint-like formations of endoplasmic reticulum were also observed. The cristae of the mitochondria were diminished and other degenerative changes were also regularly present. In one case peculiar electron-dense inclusions were seen in the mitochondria. The amount of glycogen granules in the tumour cells seemed to be considerably diminished. No significantly great changes were seen in the Golgi complex. Bile canaliculi as well as desmosomes were regularly found: usually as many as five or six participated in the formation of the canaliculi. Changes were seen also in the microvilli of the biliary and vascular poles. The relation of the tumour cells to the sinusoids proved in many respects to be similar to that in normal liver. It was a frequent finding, however, that the tumour cells formed plates consisting of several cell rows; furthermore, that a basement membrane had developed around the sinusoids, which thus became capillarized, while the sinusoid endothelium became multilayered and the Disse space filled by a fibrin-like substance. The authors compare the alterations observed in human hepatocellular carcinomas with the ultrastructural alterations found in other pathological conditions of the liver and in experimental liver tumours. Based on this comparison they offer conclusions concerning the functional cytopathological significance of the various alterations on the one hand, and the possible pathogenesis of hepatic tumours on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-358
Number of pages19
JournalVirchows Archiv Abteilung A Pathologische Anatomie
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1971


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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