Supplementary Material for: Hepatocellular Carcinoma with Irregular Rim-Like Arterial Phase Hyperenhancement: More Aggressive Pathologic Features

<b><i>Background and Aims:</i></b> The purpose of our study was to examine the histopathologic characteristics of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with irregular rim-like arterial phase enhancement (IRE), which has been reported to be associated with more aggressive tumor behavior. <b><i>Methods:</i></b> We investigated 84 pathologically confirmed HCCs in 84 patients who underwent curative hepatic resection after gadoxetate-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging between January 2008 and February 2013. Two abdominal radiologists independently reviewed these images and classified HCCs into two categories: HCC showing IRE (IRE-HCC) and HCC showing hypoenhancement or diffuse arterial enhancement (non-IRE-HCC). Twenty-two HCCs were classified as IRE-HCCs, and 51 were classified as non-IRE-HCCs concordantly by both reviewers. The remaining 11 HCCs, on whose radiologic classifications the reviewers disagreed, were classified as HCCs with intermediate enhancement patterns. The HCC clinicopathologic characteristics and patient outcomes were then compared. <b><i>Results:</i></b> IRE-HCCs showed more frequent microvascular invasion (91 vs. 35%), lower microvascular density (246.5 vs. 426.5/mm<sup>2</sup>), higher proportions of sinusoid-like microvascular pattern (55 vs. 0%) and macrotrabecular pattern (45 vs. 0%), and larger areas of tumor necrosis (15 vs. 0%) and fibrous stroma (8.3 vs. 2.1%) than non-IRE-HCCs. IRE-HCCs also expressed higher levels of immunomarkers of hypoxia (carbonic anhydrase IX, 64 vs. 8%) and stemness (EpCAM, 50 vs. 20%). <i>p</i> values were < 0.001 for all comparisons except for EpCAM (<i>p</i> = 0.026). HCCs with intermediate enhancement patterns showed mixed/intermediate pathologic features from both IRE- and non-IRE-HCCs. IRE-HCC patients showed poorer 5-year disease-free survival after curative resection than non-IRE-HCC patients (<i>p</i> = 0.005). <b><i>Conclusions:</i></b> IRE-HCCs demonstrate aggressive histopathologic features, including more hypoxic and fibrotic tumor microenvironments and increased stemness, compared to non-IRE-HCCs. IRE might therefore serve as a noninvasive imaging biomarker for aggressive HCC.