Objective: Recently, hepatocyte antigen (Hep) was introduced as a sensitive and reliable marker of intestinal metaplasia (IM). However, the distribution of Hep expression in subtypes of IM was not described.
Methods: We examined the expression of Hep in 58 cases of chronic gastritis associated with IM by immunohistochemical staining. Cases were classified as: 19 of IM Type I (complete) cases, 16 cases of IM Type II (incomplete) and 23 cases of IM Type III (incomplete). The distribution of Hep expression was classified into four groups according to the intensity of Hep expressing metaplastic cells: negative, low, moderate and high. We also compared expression of Hep with that of MUC-1, MUC-2 and MUC-5AC.
Results: Hep expression showed granular cytoplasmic staining and was specifically identified in columnar cells, but not in goblet cells. There was no significant difference between Hep expression and subtypes of IM (p > 0.005). However, the difference between the distribution of Hep expression among three subtypes of IM was significant (p < 0.001). No relationship was observed among the expression of Hep, MUC-1, MUC-2 and MUC-5AC.
Conclusion: Results of the present study revealed that the distribution of Hep expression is high in the majority of the complete type (Type I) IM cases, moderate in the majority of the incomplete Type II IM cases and low in all of the incomplete Type III IM cases and suggest that besides its role as a sensitive marker in IM, the evaluation of the distribution of Hep expression might be useful in the classification of IM.