Hepatocyte Cytokeratin 7 Expression in Chronic Allograft Rejection

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We examined hepatocyte cytokeratin 7 (CK7) expression in chronic allograft rejection (CR), a ductopenic condition in which this has not been systematically evaluated, in 20 patients with the clinicopathologic diagnosis of CR and age-, sex-, and native-disease–matched control subjects. We also studied baseline biopsy specimens from both groups. Three pathologists independently reviewed H&E- and CK7-stained sections, counting interlobular bile ducts (BDs) and portal tracts (PTs), noting the morphologic pattern of injury and scoring hepatocyte CK7 expression (0, none; 1+, rare; 2+, multifocal, predominantly periportal; 3+, extension into the lobule; 4+, diffuse). Mean BD/PT ratios and CK7 scores were calculated. The mean BD/PT ratio (0.58) and CK7 score (1.01) for the “CR, diagnostic” group were significantly different from all other group means (P < .05); no other comparisons were significant (P > .05). A CK7 score of 1 or more was observed in 9 (56%) of 16 CR specimens and in 3 (7%) of 41 remaining specimens. Hepatocyte CK7 expression is frequently noted in CR, and it would appear to reflect ductopenia. CK7 staining may be a useful diagnostic adjunct in evaluation of transplant liver biopsy specimens.

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