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CD133: a potential indicator for differentiation and prognosis of human cholangiocarcinoma

Linni Fan1, Furong He1, Hongxiang Liu2, Jin Zhu1, Yixiong Liu1, Zhiyong Yin3, Lu Wang1, Ying Guo1, Zhe Wang1, Qingguo Yan1 and Gaosheng Huang1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Department of Pathology, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an 710032, China

2 Department of Histopathology, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK

3 Department of Cardiology, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an 710032, China

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:320  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-320

Published: 29 July 2011



CD133 is known to be a cancer stem cell (CSC) marker. However, recent studies have revealed that CD133 is not restricted to CSC but to be expressed not only in human normal tissues but also in some cancers and could serve as a prognostic factor for the patients. Nevertheless, the expression of CD133 in human cholangiocarcinoma (CC) is rare and our study is to detect the expression and explore the potential functions of CD133 in human CC.


Fifty-nine cases, comprised of 5 normal liver tissues and 54 consecutive CC specimens (21 well-differentiated, 12 moderately-differentiated and 21 poorly-differentiated), were included in the study. Immunohistochemical stainning with CD133 protein was carried out, and statistical analyses were performed.


CD133 was found to express in all 5 normal livers and 40 out of 54 (74%) CC tissues with different subcellular localization. In the well, moderately and poorly differentiated cases, the numbers of CD133 positive cases were 19 (19 of 21, 90%), 10 (10 of 12, 83%) and 11 (11 of 21, 52%) respectively. Further statistical analyses indicated that the expression and different subcellular localization of CD133 were significantly correlated with the differentiation status of tumors (P = 0.004, P = 0.009). Among 23 patients followed up for survival, the median survival was 4 months for fourteen CD133 negative patients but 14 months for nine CD133 positive ones. In univariate survival analysis, CD133 negative expression correlated with poor prognosis while CD133 positive expression predicted a favorable outcome of CC patients (P = 0.001).


Our study demonstrates that CD133 expression correlates with the differentiation of CC and indicates that CD133 is a potential indicator for differentiation and prognosis of human CC.

CD133; Cholangiocarcinoma; Immunohistochemistry; Differentiation; Prognosis