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JOURNAL ARTICLE

A subpopulation of airway epithelial cells that express hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α - its implication in the development of non-terminal respiratory unit-type lung adenocarcinoma

Koji Okudela, Hiromasa Arai, Hideya Kitamura, Tomohisa Baba, Hideaki Mitsui, Takehisa Suzuki, Misaki Sugiyama, Emi Honda, Mai Matsumura, Tamiko Takemura, Toshiaki Kataoka, Chihiro Koike, Yoko Tateshi, Michihiko Tajiri, Takashi Ogura, Kenichi Ohashi
Histology and Histopathology 2019 March 8, : 18098
30848476
A normal counterpart and precancerous lesion that non-terminal respiratory unit (TRU) lung adenocarcinomas (LADCs) develop from have not been clarified. Non-TRU LADCs specifically express hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α). Thus, we have been interested in airway epithelial cells that express HNF4α as the potential precursor of non-TRU LADC. The purposes of the present study are to report the frequency and distribution of HNF4α-expressing cells at the different airway levels, and to investigate the potential significance of the expression of HNF4α in the histogenesis of non-TRU LADC with a special reference to the relationship to bronchiolar metaplasia in idiopathic interstitial pneumonia. We herein identified a minor subpopulation of epithelial cells that express HNF4α in a physiological state. This subpopulation was mainly located in the terminal bronchioles and had the appearance of ciliated cells, which were mutually exclusive from Clara cells and others that strongly expressed thyroid transcription factor 1. Furthermore, the expression of HNF4α was similar in bronchiolar metaplastic lesions and the terminal bronchioles, and some of the metaplastic lesions showed an unequivocally higher frequency and expression level of HNF4α, which was comparable to non-TRU LADC. In summary, this is the first study to describe a subpopulation of ciliated cells that express HNF4α as a potential normal counterpart for non-TRU LADCs and suggests that bronchiolar metaplastic lesions that strongly express HNF4α are a precancerous lesion for non-TRU LADCs.

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