Case Reports:

Liver cancers with stem/progenitor-cell features – a rare chemotherapy-sensitive malignancy

Bruno Christian Köhler _, Nina Waldburger, Kai Schlamp, Dirk Jäger, Karl Heinz Weiss, Henning Schulze-Bergkamen, Peter Schirmacher and Christoph Springfeld

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:59991-59998. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19000

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Bruno Christian Köhler1,2, Nina Waldburger3,2, Kai Schlamp4, Dirk Jäger1,2, Karl Heinz Weiss5,2, Henning Schulze-Bergkamen6, Peter Schirmacher3,2 and Christoph Springfeld1,2

1 Department of Medical Oncology, National Center for Tumor Diseases, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

2 Liver Cancer Center Heidelberg, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

3 Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

4 Department of Neuroradiology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

5 Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

6 Department of Internal Medicine II, Marien-Hospital, Wesel, Germany

Correspondence to:

Bruno Christian Köhler, email:

Keywords: liver cancer, liver stem cell, liver progenitor cell, alpha fetoprotein, chemotherapy

Received: January 18, 2017 Accepted: June 14, 2017 Published: June 05, 2017


Primary liver tumors are a heterogeneous group of malignancies. Besides classical hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CC), combined and intermediate forms of liver cancer exist and can express stem-cell markers like nuclear cell adhesion molecule (NCAM-1/CD56), c-kit (CD117) or epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) together with high proliferative activity. Liver tumors with progenitor-cell features are associated with an unfavorable prognosis, but the phenotype has not resulted in therapeutic consequences so far.

We report three patients with liver cancers with stem/progenitor-cell features that responded exceptionally well to chemotherapy. These encouraging results indicate that the identification of liver cancer with stem/progenitor-cell phenotype in a patient´s tumor might justify an attempt to treat the patient with chemotherapy. Further case studies and finally clinical trials will be necessary to determine the optimal treatment for patients with this rare form of liver cancer.

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