What is the role chronic hepatitis B (HBV) (Hep B) infection in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)?

Updated: Aug 01, 2018
  • Author: Nikolaos T Pyrsopoulos, MD, PhD, MBA, FACP, AGAF; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

The mechanism by which chronic hepatitis B infection predisposes to the development of HCC is not clear. Cirrhosis is a cardinal factor in carcinogenesis. Hepatocyte inflammation, necrosis, mitosis, and features of chronic hepatitis are major factors in nodular regeneration, fibrosis, and carcinoma. Liver cell dysplasia, defined as cellular enlargement, nuclear pleomorphism, and multinucleated cells affecting groups or whole nodules, may be an intermediate step. The high cell-proliferation rate increases the risk of HCC.

The fact that the facultative liver stem cells are capable of bipotent differentiation into hepatocytes or biliary epithelium, termed oval cells, may play an important role in the pathogenesis. These cells are small, with oval nuclei and scant pale cytoplasm.


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