Abstract

Isolated hepatic localizations of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are generally considered as metastatic NETs of unknown primary but could correspond to primary hepatic NETs (PHNETs), a poorly explored entity. We aimed to describe the clinicopathological and molecular features of PHNETs and compare them with other primary NETs. We assembled a retrospective cohort of patients managed for hepatic localization of NET without extra-hepatic primary tumor after exhaustive clinical, imaging, and immunohistochemical characterization. We performed whole-exome sequencing with mutational and copy number analysis. Transcriptomic profiles were compared with pancreatic (n = 31), small-bowel (n = 22), and lung (n = 15) NETs using principal component analysis, unsupervised clustering, and gene set enrichment analysis. Among 27 screened patients, 16 had PHNET (solitary tumor in 63%, median size 11 cm, G2 NETs in 81%) following clinical and pathological review. DNA analyses showed ‘foregut-like’ genomic profiles with frequent alterations in pathways of Fanconi DNA repair (75%), histone modifiers (58%), adherens junctions (58%), and cell cycle control (50%). The most frequently involved genes were KMT2A (58%), ATM (42%), CDH1, CDKN2C, FANCF, and MEN1 (33% each). Transcriptomic analyses showed that PHNETs clustered closer to foregut (pancreatic, lung) NETs than to midgut (small-bowel) NETs, while remaining a distinct entity with a specific profile. Assessment of potentially predictive biomarkers suggested efficacy of treatments usually active in foregut NETs. In conclusion, PHNETs display a foregut-like molecular profile distinct from other types of NETs, with recurrent molecular alterations. Upon exhaustive work-up to exclude an unrecognized primary tumor, PHNETs should not be considered metastatic NETs from an unknown primary. © 2022 The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

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