Arginase-1: A new immunohistochemical marker of hepatocytes and hepatocellular neoplasms

Benjamin C. Yan, Can Gong, Jie Song, Thomas Krausz, Maria Tretiakova, Elizabeth Hyjek, Hikmat Al-Ahmadie, Venancio Alves, Shu Yuan Xiao, Robert A. Anders, John A. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


The distinction of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from metastatic tumor in the liver often presents a diagnostic challenge that carries significant impact on prognostication and therapy. The number of diagnostically useful immunohistochemical markers of hepatocytes is limited to hepatocyte paraffin antigen (HepPar-1), polyclonal carcinoembryonic antigen, and CD10, with α-fetoprotein and glypican-3 labeling HCCs. Arginase-1 (Arg-1) is a binuclear manganese metalloenzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of arginine to ornithine and urea. We used immunohistochemistry to compare the sensitivity of Arg-1 to that of HepPar-1 in 151 HCCs. We found that the overall sensitivities of Arg-1 and HepPar-1 are 96.0% and 84.1%, respectively. The sensitivities of Arg-1 in well, moderately, and poorly differentiated HCCs are 100%, 96.2%, and 85.7%, respectively, whereas, in comparison, HepPar-1 demonstrated sensitivities of 100%, 83.0%, and 46.4% for well, moderately, and poorly differentiated tumors, respectively. There were no HCCs in our study that were reactive for HepPar-1 but nonreactive for Arg-1. We also examined Arg-1 expression in nonhepatocellular tumors, including many that are potential mimics of HCC (renal cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors, melanomas, gastric adenocarcinomas, and adrenocortical carcinomas) and found that only 2 non-HCC tumors were reactive for Arg-1. Arg-1 represents a sensitive and specific marker of benign and malignant hepatocytes that may ultimately prove to be a useful diagnostic tool in routine surgical pathology practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1154
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • HepPar-1
  • arginase
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • immunohistochemistry
  • liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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