Alternative lengthening of telomeres in primary hepatic neoplasms

Saba Yasir, Scott Thompson, Zongming Eric Chen, Ryan Knudson, Darlene Knutson, Sara Kloft-Nelson, Rondell P. Graham, Dhanpat Jain, Sanford M. Simon, Tsung Teh Wu, Michael Torbenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) phenotype is characterized by ultra-bright telomeres on fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and is a marker of a unique mechanism of telomere maintenance in tumors. ALT does not occur in normal tissues. ALT has been described in hepatocellular carcinoma (5–10%) and in primary hepatic angiosarcomas (75%). To study the frequency of ALT in other primary hepatic tumors, a wide range of primary hepatic neoplasms were retrieved. The tumors included the following: intrahepatic and hilar cholangiocarcinomas (N = 110), hepatic adenomas (N = 35), hepatocellular carcinomas (N = 30), fibrolamellar carcinomas (n = 11), combined cholangiocarcinoma-hepatocellular carcinomas (N = 8), carcinosarcoma (N = 10), hepatoblastomas (N = 5), hemangiomas (N = 4), angiosarcomas (N = 8), epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas (N = 10), calcified nested stromal epithelial tumor (N = 2), embryonal sarcoma (N = 2), rhabdoid tumor (N = 1), bile duct adenoma (N = 1), and angiomyolipoma (N = 1). For epithelial tumors, ALT-FISH was positive in one carcinosarcoma (10% of cases), one cholangiocarcinoma (1% of cases), and one combined hepatocellular carcinoma-cholangiocarcinoma (13% of cases). In the hepatocellular carcinoma component of both the carcinosarcoma and the combined hepatocellular carcinoma-cholangiocarcinoma, the tumor cells showed patchy marked nuclear pleomorphism akin to that described previously for chromophobe hepatocellular carcinoma, which are typically ALT FISH positive. The ALT-positive cholangiocarcinoma also showed patchy, striking nuclear pleomorphism. For soft tissue tumors, ALT was positive in two angiosarcomas (N = 2; 25% of cases). In summary, this study shows that ALT-FISH is positive in rare carcinosarcomas, cholangiocarcinomas, and combined cholangiocarcinoma-hepatocellular carcinoma. ALT is not a significant mechanism of telomere maintenance in hepatocellular adenomas or fibrolamellar carcinomas and was negative in all other tested primary hepatic neoplasms. ALT-FISH is also positive in a subset of primary hepatic angiosarcomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Pathology
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Alternative lenthening of telomeres
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Carcinosarcoma
  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • Combined hepatocellular carcinoma-cholangiocarcinoma
  • Fibrolamellar carcinoma
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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