Decreased expression of nm23, a putative metastasis suppressor gene, has been reported to be related to either intrahepatic metastasis or a poor prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to elucidate the true role of nm23-H1 expression in both intrahepatic and distant metastases of HCC.Methods:
Thirteen patients with single-nodule HCC, seven patients with HCC having satellite nodules and seven patients with HCCs having extrahepatic metastases were included in this study. The expression of nm23-H1 protein was immunohistochemically examined in both primary and metastatic nodules.Results:
Ten of 13 single-nodule HCCs were found to overexpress nm23-H1 protein. All main tumors, having satellite nodules, were found to overexpress nm23-H1 protein, except for two HCCs, which only partially expressed nm23-H1 protein. Regarding the nm23-H1 expression in intrahepatic metastases, most nodules overexpressed the protein. The expression of nm23-H1 was found to be low in only one intrahepatic metastasis specimen, while its primary tumor was also found to show a low expression of nm23-H1 protein, Microscopic portal vein invasion was found in three of the five patients studied, and all cancer cells in portal invasion overexpressed nm23-H1 protein. Nm23-H1 protein was expressed in all distant metastatic tumors and the staining intensity of most metastatic nodules was similar to that of the primary tumors.Conclusions:
Our study demonstrated that nm23-H1 expression did not always decrease but instead tended to increase at both intrahepatic and extrahepatic metastatic sites. Based on these findings, nm23-H1 expression is not considered to be a reliable indicator of either intrahepatic or distant metastasis in HCC.