Abstract Background. Macrophage colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF-1R) expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and its prognostic values are unclear. This study evaluated the prognostic values of the intratumoral and peritumoral expression of CSF-1R in HCC patients after curative resection.
Methods. Tissue microarrays containing material from cohort 1 (105 patients) and cohort 2 (32 patients) were constructed. Immunohistochemistry was performed and prognostic values of these and other clinicopathological data were evaluated. The CSF-1R mRNA level was assessed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in cohort 3 (52 patients).
Results. Both the CSF-1R density and its mRNA level were significantly higher in peritumoral liver tissue than in the corresponding tumor tissue. CSF-1R was distributed in a gradient in the long-distance peritumoral tissue microarray, with its density decreasing as the distance from the tumor margin increased. High peritumoral CSF-1R was significantly associated with more intrahepatic metastases and poorer survival. Peritumoral CSF-1R was an independent prognostic factor for both overall survival and time to recurrence and affected the incidence of early recurrence. However, intratumoral CSF-1R did not correlate with any clinicopathological feature. Peritumoral CSF-1R was also associated with both overall survival and time to recurrence in a subgroup with small HCCs (<=5 cm).
Conclusions. Peritumoral CSF-1R is associated with intrahepatic metastasis, tumor recurrence, and patient survival after hepatectomy, highlighting the critical role of the peritumoral liver milieu in HCC progression. CSF-1R may become a potential therapeutic target for postoperative adjuvant treatment.