Gene Summary

Gene:AFP; alpha fetoprotein
Summary:This gene encodes alpha-fetoprotein, a major plasma protein produced by the yolk sac and the liver during fetal life. Alpha-fetoprotein expression in adults is often associated with hepatoma or teratoma. However, hereditary persistance of alpha-fetoprotein may also be found in individuals with no obvious pathology. The protein is thought to be the fetal counterpart of serum albumin, and the alpha-fetoprotein and albumin genes are present in tandem in the same transcriptional orientation on chromosome 4. Alpha-fetoprotein is found in monomeric as well as dimeric and trimeric forms, and binds copper, nickel, fatty acids and bilirubin. The level of alpha-fetoprotein in amniotic fluid is used to measure renal loss of protein to screen for spina bifida and anencephaly. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Source:NCBIAccessed: 01 September, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 01 September 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Smoking
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • MicroRNAs
  • Apoptosis
  • Chromosome 4
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Preoperative Period
  • Recurrence
  • Liver Cirrhosis
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
  • RHOA
  • AFP
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Whole Exome Sequencing
  • Liver
  • Gene Expression
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk Factors
  • RNA
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Down-Regulation
  • DNA Methylation
  • Cell Movement
  • Long Noncoding RNA
  • Staging
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases, Non-Receptor
  • Genotype
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • SOXD Transcription Factors
  • Adolescents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Liver Cancer
Tag cloud generated 01 September, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (1)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: AFP (cancer-related)

Park CS, Eom DW, Ahn Y, et al.
Can heme oxygenase-1 be a prognostic factor in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma?
Medicine (Baltimore). 2019; 98(26):e16084 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is an important catalytic enzyme in heme degradation, which increases during stressful conditions. It plays a major role in antioxidative and antiapoptotic processes and is associated with tumor growth and metastasis.This study aimed to evaluate the degree of HO-1 expressions in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) surgical specimens and the correlation between HO-1 expression and patient prognosis. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded HCC tissue samples (n = 96) were included in the analysis, and the expression of HO-1 was evaluated by immunohistochemical staining. We reviewed clinical features of patients and evaluated the prognostic role of HO-1 in patient survival and recurrence.Positive HO-1 expression was identified in 43 cases (44.8%) and was frequently found in patients with advanced histology (Edmondson-Steiner [E-S] grade 2, 3, 4), α-fetoprotein (AFP) level of more than 200 IU/mL, and the presence of microvascular and capsular invasion (P < .05). In the univariate analysis, the overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) of patients with HO-1-positive HCC were not statistically different from those with HO-1-negative HCC. Moreover, HO-1 expression was not associated with patient survival and recurrence based on the multivariate analysis. In the subgroup analysis of patients without preoperative transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) (n = 61), HO-1 was not also associated with tumor recurrence (P = .681).The clinical implication of HO-1 activity is controversial in various malignancies. However, HO-1 expression did not seem to influence the prognosis of HCC patients.

Song Y, Park IS, Kim J, Seo HR
Actinomycin D inhibits the expression of the cystine/glutamate transporter xCT via attenuation of CD133 synthesis in CD133
Chem Biol Interact. 2019; 309:108713 [PubMed] Related Publications
Liver cancer is one of the most frequently occurring types of cancer with high mortality rate. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) frequently metastasizes to lung, portal vein, and portal lymph nodes and most HCCs show strong resistance to conventional anticancer drugs. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are considered to be responsible for resistance to therapies. Hence, recent advancements in the use of liver cancer stem cells (LCSCs) are rapidly gaining recognition as an efficient and organized means for developing antitumor agents. We aimed to use a non-target-based high-throughput screening (HTS) approach to specifically target α-fetoprotein (AFP)

Zhang Q, Lu Y, Xu X, et al.
MR molecular imaging of HCC employing a regulated ferritin gene carried by a modified polycation vector.
Int J Nanomedicine. 2019; 14:3189-3201 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications

Hu Y, Sun L, Tao S, et al.
Clinical significance of HDAC9 in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2019; 65(4):23-28 [PubMed] Related Publications
In recent years, most related studies have found that chronic hepatitis B virus infection is the main cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but the specific pathogenesis is still unclear. To investigate the function of HDAC in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), this study used qRT-PCR to determine the expression levels of miR-376a and HDAC9 mNRA in HCC and para-cancerous tissues. The clinical significance of HDAC9 in HCC was assessed in a study cohort containing 37 patients with HCC using immunohistochemistry. The expression level of miR-376a in liver cancer tissues was significantly lower than that in para-cancerous tissues, while the expression level of HDAC9 mRNA in liver cancer tissue was significantly higher than that in para-cancerous tissues. The expression of HDAC9 occurred mainly in the nucleus. There was a significant correlation between tumor differentiation and HDAC9. Survival analysis showed that HCC patients with higher HDAC9 expression had poorer prognosis, and subsequent multivariate analysis showed that HDAC9 expression level was an independent predictor. There was a definite correlation between HDAC9 and the expressions of AFP and Ki67. These results suggest that the expression level of HDAC9 in HCC is abnormally high while the expression level of miR-376a is significantly decreased, indicating that HDAC9 may be a potential prognostic indicator of HCC.

Xiang XH, Yang L, Zhang X, et al.
Seven-senescence-associated gene signature predicts overall survival for Asian patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
World J Gastroenterol. 2019; 25(14):1715-1728 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Cellular senescence is a recognized barrier for progression of chronic liver diseases to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The expression of a cluster of genes is altered in response to environmental factors during senescence. However, it is questionable whether these genes could serve as biomarkers for HCC patients.
AIM: To develop a signature of senescence-associated genes (SAGs) that predicts patients' overall survival (OS) to improve prognosis prediction of HCC.
METHODS: SAGs were identified using two senescent cell models. Univariate COX regression analysis was performed to screen the candidate genes significantly associated with OS of HCC in a discovery cohort (GSE14520) for the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator modelling. Prognostic value of this seven-gene signature was evaluated using two independent cohorts retrieved from the GEO (GSE14520) and the Cancer Genome Atlas datasets, respectively. Time-dependent receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was conducted to compare the predictive accuracy of the seven-SAG signature and serum α-fetoprotein (AFP).
RESULTS: A total of 42 SAGs were screened and seven of them, including
CONCLUSION: We developed a seven-SAG signature, which could predict OS of Asian HCC patients. This risk model provides new clinical evidence for the accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment of HCC.

Huang YL, Wu JR, Fang M, et al.
The role of ERCC1 and AFP gene polymorphism in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Medicine (Baltimore). 2019; 98(14):e15090 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of polymorphisms in excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1) and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) genes and their haplotypes on the susceptibility to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and to decipher the association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and clinicopathologic characteristics of HCC.Peripheral blood DNA was extracted from 206 subjects. SNaPshot technique was used for genotyping 5 SNP sites of the ERCC1 rs735482, rs1046282, rs3212948, and AFP rs737241, rs4024 genotypes. Chi-squared test and logistic regression model were used to analyze the relationship of different genotypes or haplotype and the susceptibility and clinicopathologic characteristics of HCC.The frequency of GG.GA and AA genotypes at the AFP rs737241 site in the case and control groups showed statistically significant differences (P < .05). The risk of HCC in subjects carrying mutated allele A (GA+AA) was increased by 0.543-times (P < .05) compared to that in the subjects with the GG genotype. Significant differences were observed in the linkage disequilibrium between 2 of the five SNPs (P < .05); the frequency of ERCC1 C-C and AFP A-A haplotypes was significantly lower in the case group than in the control group (P < .05). The results of clinicopathologic analysis showed that A allele at the rs737241 locus could increase the expression level of AFP (P = .007), the rs1046282 mutation C allele could increase the AFP expression level (P = .011), rs4024 locus mutation A allele could reduce the risk of vascular invasion (P = .013), rs3212948 locus mutation T allele could reduce the differentiation of liver cancer (P = .022), rs1046282 locus C allele could reduce the DNA load of hepatitis B virus (P = .035), and rs735482 A allele could increase the tumor size in HCC (P = .037).The SNPs in rs737241 for AFP gene may correlate with the occurrence of HCC. The SNPs in ERCC1 and AFP genes may affect the prognosis of HCC, offering reliable information for early prediction of tumor progression and diagnosis of HCC.

Pradier MF, Reis B, Jukofsky L, et al.
Case-control Indian buffet process identifies biomarkers of response to Codrituzumab.
BMC Cancer. 2019; 19(1):278 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Codrituzumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against Glypican-3 (GPC3), which is expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), was tested in a randomized phase II trial in advanced HCC patients who had failed prior systemic therapy. Biomarker analysis was performed to identify a responder population that benefits from treatment.
METHODS: A novel statistical method based on the Indian buffet process (IBP) was used to identify biomarkers predictive of response to treatment with Codrituzumab. The IBP is a novel method that allows flexibility in analysis design, and which is sensitive to slight, but meaningful between-group differences in biomarkers in very complex datasets RESULTS: The IBP model identified several subpopulations of patients having defined biomarker values. Tumor necrosis and viable cell content in the tumor were identified as prognostic markers of disease progression, as were the well-known HCC prognostic markers of disease progression, alpha-fetoprotein and Glypican-3 expression. Predictive markers of treatment response included natural killer (NK) cell surface markers and parameters influencing NK cell activity, all related to the mechanism of action of this drug CONCLUSIONS: The Indian buffet process can be effectively used to detect statistically significant signals with high sensitivity in complex and noisy biological data TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01507168 , January 6, 2012.

Du H, Xu Q, Xiao S, et al.
MicroRNA-424-5p acts as a potential biomarker and inhibits proliferation and invasion in hepatocellular carcinoma by targeting TRIM29.
Life Sci. 2019; 224:1-11 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: miRNA-424-5p (miR-424-5p) has been implicated in the development and progression of various tumors. However, the functional mechanisms of miR-424-5p in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are unclear. In this study, we investigated the specific biological functions of miRNA in HCC.
METHODS: The expression of miR-424-5p was measured by qRT-PCR in HCC tissues and cell lines. Western blot and immunohistochemistry were used to detect the protein expression level of TRIM29. The relationship between miR-424-5p and the clinicopathological features of HCC patients was analyzed. Cell function experiments were performed to examine proliferation and invasion in HCC cells. The miRNA database was used to predict downstream target genes of miR-424-5p, which were verified by a luciferase reporter assay. Furthermore, cell and animal experiments confirmed that miR-424-5p exerts its biological function through the target gene TRIM29.
RESULTS: miR-424-5p expression was decreased in HCC tissues and cell lines, and correlated with AFP, TNM stage, intrahepatic metastasis and poor overall survival in HCC. The upregulation of miR-424-5p inhibited cell proliferation and invasion in vitro and suppressed HCC tumor growth in vivo. TRIM29 was confirmed to be the downstream target gene of miR-424-5p. Finally, rescue experiments suggested that the upregulation of TRIM29 could rescue inhibitory effect of miR-424-5p overexpression on cell proliferation and migration.
CONCLUSION: miR-424-5p is a tumor suppressor miRNA that inhibits cell proliferation and invasion via directly modulating TRIM29, which is related to cell proliferation and invasion in HCC. Thus, miR-424-5p may be a potential therapeutic and new prognostic marker for HCC.

Moawed FS, El-Sonbaty SM, Mansour SZ
Gallium nanoparticles along with low-dose gamma radiation modulate TGF-β/MMP-9 expression in hepatocellular carcinogenesis in rats.
Tumour Biol. 2019; 41(3):1010428319834856 [PubMed] Related Publications
Combining chemotherapy with radiotherapy potentiates the outcome of cancer treatment for the more comprehensive attack. In the current study, we continued to assess the therapeutic efficaciousness of the newly synthesized gallium nanoparticles (GaNPs) combined with low level of gamma radiation (IR), on the incidence of diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in rats. Oral administration of GaNPs (1 mg/Kg b.wt.) 5 times per week for 6 weeks combined with IR to rats treated with DEN (20 mg/Kg b.wt. 5 times per week for 6 weeks) significantly reduced serum levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), aspartate transferase (AST), alanine transferase (ALT), and gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). In addition, the immunoblotting results of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MM-9) showed a marked downregulation of protein expression along with a significant decrease in the hepatic level of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β). Furthermore, GaNPs and/or low dose of radiation significantly elevated the level of caspase-3 gene transcript accompanied with evoked DNA fragmentation in rats treated with DEN. The ameliorative effect of GaNPs and IR well appreciated with the histopathological alteration finding in DEN groups. It can be concluded that the combination of GaNPs and/or IR can serve as a good therapeutic agent for the treatment of HCC, which ought to attract more studies.

Maruyama S, Furuya S, Shiraishi K, et al.
Inhibition of apoptosis by miR‑122‑5p in α‑fetoprotein‑producing gastric cancer.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(4):2595-2600 [PubMed] Related Publications
α‑Fetoprotein (AFP)‑producing gastric cancer (AFPGC) is recognized as one of the most aggressive tumors with subsequent poor prognosis compared with common gastric cancer (GC) subtypes. However, the molecular mechanism remains to be elucidated. We previously identified that miR‑122‑5p could be a useful biomarker in AFPGC patients. We examined herein the biological function of miR‑122‑5p and the molecular mechanism underlying tumor progression in AFPGC. We used the AFPGC cell line (FU97) and miR‑122‑5p inhibitor to examine the function of miR‑122‑5p. Moreover, we investigated the possible targets of miR‑122‑5p. The expression level of miR‑122‑5p was significantly increased in the FU97 cell line than in common GC cell lines. Also, suppression of miR‑122‑5p significantly reduced AFP levels and proliferation in AFPGC through an induction of apoptosis. Western blotting revealed that the expression of anti‑apoptotic protein (Bcl‑2) was decreased and that of pro‑apoptotic protein (caspase‑3) was increased in miR‑122‑5p suppression of FU97. Moreover, we revealed that FOXO3 was an important target of miR‑122‑5p in AFPGC, which inhibited apoptosis and subsequently manifested aggressiveness. In conclusion, miR‑122‑5p inhibited apoptosis and facilitated tumor progression by targeting FOXO3 in AFPGC, which indicates the possibility of miR‑122‑5p as a potential therapeutic target in AFPGC.

Al-Gayyar MMH, Bagalagel A, Noor AO, et al.
The therapeutic effects of nicotinamide in hepatocellular carcinoma through blocking IGF-1 and effecting the balance between Nrf2 and PKB.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2019; 112:108653 [PubMed] Related Publications
Insulin growth factor (IGF) family and their receptors play a great role in tumors' development. In addition, IGF-1 enhances cancer progression through regulating cell proliferation, angiogenesis, immune modulation and metastasis. Moreover, nicotinamide is association with protection against cancer. Therefore, we conducted this research to examine the therapeutic effects of nicotinamide against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) both in vivo and in vitro through affecting IGF-1 and the balance between PKB and Nrf2. HCC was induced in rats by 200 mg/kg, ip thioacetamide. The rat survival, number and size of tumors and serum α-fetoprotein (AFP) were measured. The gene and protein levels of IGF-1, Nrf2, PKB and JNK-MAPK were assessed in rat livers. In addition, HepG2 cells, human HCC cell lines, were treated with different concentrations of nicotinamide. We found that nicotinamide enhanced the rats' survival and reduced the number and size of hepatic tumors as well as it reduced serum AFP and HepG2 cells survival. Nicotinamide ameliorated HCC-induced reduction in the expression of Nrf2. Moreover, nicotinamide blocked HCC-induced elevation in IGF-1, PKB and JNK-MAPK. In conclusion, nicotinamide produced cytotoxic effects against HCC both in vivo and in vitro. The cytotoxic activity can be explained by inhibition of HCC-induced increased in the expression of IGF-1 and leads to disturbances in the balance between the cell death signal by PKB and MAPK; and the cell survival signal by Nrf2, directing it towards cell survival signals in normal liver cells providing more protection for body against tumor.

Lv Z, He R, Huang M, et al.
Targeting genes and signaling pathways of transcriptional suppressor ZHX2 in hepatocellular carcinoma: a Chromatin Immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) investigation.
Neoplasma. 2019; 2019(3):437-445 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancies in the world. The unclear molecular mechanisms underlying could provide important theoretical basis for the prevention and control of HCC. This study performed chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) to analyze the binding sites between zinc fingers and homeoboxes 2 (ZHX2) and its genome-wide target genes, and bioinformatics was used to analyze their gene transcription regulation network. Immunohistochemistry was used to detect the ZHX2 expression in HCC, and its association with the clinicopathological characteristics of HCC. Results of RT-PCR and western blot showed the expression of ZHX2 in HepG2 cells was obviously lower compared with normal liver cells. ZHX2 could be amplified in ChIP products, then ChIP-seq reveals there were 232 genes binding in promoter regions. GO analysis of functions revealed these genes were mainly associated with biological processes (BP), cellular components (CC), and molecular functions (MF). In addition, PTEN was found enriched in certain biological functions in BP analysis. Then, four pathways of these genes based on Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) were found P<0.05. Last analysis of immunohistochemistry showed the rates of ZHX2 expression and PTEN expression in paracancerous tissues both were significantly higher than that in HCC tissues (P=0.042; P<0.001), with negative correlations with AFP values (r=-0.246, P=0.040; r=-0.263, P=0.028). Further, PTEN expression was positively correlated with the differentiation level in HCC tissues (r=0.267, P=0.025). Spearman correlation analysis revealed that the expression profiles of ZHX2 and PTEN were positively correlated in HCC tissues (r=0.258, P=0.031). This study is the first to use ChIP-seq technology to analyze the specific regulatory mechanisms of the transcription suppressor ZHX2 in the context of HCC at the genome level.

Weis A, Marquart L, Calvopina DA, et al.
Serum MicroRNAs as Biomarkers in Hepatitis C: Preliminary Evidence of a MicroRNA Panel for the Diagnosis of Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
Int J Mol Sci. 2019; 20(4) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Early diagnosis of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) due to chronic Hepatitis C (CHC) remain clinical priorities. In this pilot study, we assessed serum microRNA (miRNA) expression to distinguish cirrhosis and HCC, alone and in combination with the aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio (APRI), Fibrosis 4 (FIB-4), and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). Sixty CHC patients were subdivided into 3 cohorts: Mild disease (fibrosis stage F0-2;

Li Z, Zhou Y, Yang G, et al.
Using circular RNA SMARCA5 as a potential novel biomarker for hepatocellular carcinoma.
Clin Chim Acta. 2019; 492:37-44 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common malignant tumor worldwide. Circular RNAs (circRNAs), a new class of endogenous non-coding RNAs, are widespread and abundant in mammalian cells. Cumulative evidence showed that circRNAs play significant roles in the process of cancer. However, the expression and function of circRNAs in HCC remain to be investigated.
METHODS: The expression of circular RNA SMARCA5 (circSMARCA5) in tissues and plasma samples was detected by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). The role of circSMARCA5 in HCC progression was assessed by in vitro experiments. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was established to evaluate the value of circSMARCA5 as a biomarker in HCC.
RESULTS: The expression of circSMARCA5 was significantly downregulated in HCC tissues compared with para-carcinoma tissues. CircSMARCA5 levels were correlated with tumor differentiation (p = 0.023), Tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) stage (p = 0.001), cancer invasion (p = 0.004), as well as cancer diameter (p = 0.018). In vitro cell experiments revealed that overexpression of circSMARCA5 resulted in inhibited proliferation, increased apoptosis and suppressed invasion. Moreover, we found that circSMARCA5 expression was down-regulated in plasma samples of patients with HCC. The ROC curve analyses revealed that plasma circSMARCA5 showed a high accuracy (AUC = 0.938, 0.853, 0.711) for diagnosing HCC from healthy controls, hepatitis and cirrhosis. The area under the ROC curve of plasma circSMARCA5 in combination with AFP in diagnosing HCC from hepatitis and cirrhosis was 0.903 and 0.858. Especially, plasma circSMARCA5 presented a high accuracy (AUC = 0.847, 0.706) for detecting HCC with serum AFP below 200 ng/ml from those hepatitis and cirrhosis with AFP below 200 ng/ml.
CONCLUSION: Our study revealed that circSMARCA5 may promote apoptosis, inhibit proliferation, invasion and metastasis of HCC cells. CircSMARCA5 may serve as a potential prediction and monitor biomarker for HCC, especially in HCC patients with AFP blow the cutoff value.

Pasha HF, Mohamed RH, Radwan MI
RASSF1A and SOCS1 genes methylation status as a noninvasive marker for hepatocellular carcinoma.
Cancer Biomark. 2019; 24(2):241-247 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: DNA methylation status is one of the most prevalent molecular alterations in human cancers. Identification of powerful diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) without a biopsy is urgently required.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine the methylation status of RASSF1A and SOCS-1genes as a non-invasive biomarker for HCC identification and prognosis.
METHODS: Methylation specific-PCR technique was performed to recognize the methylation status of RASSF1A and SOCS-1 genes in 100 patients with HCC, 100 patients with liver cirrhosis (LC) but without HCC were considered as cirrhotic liver control group and 100 healthy control.
RESULTS: Methylation of RASSF1A and SOCS-1 genes were detected in 40% and 38% of HCC patients respectively, 14% and 20% of LC patients respectively. Methylation of SOCS-1 gene in peripheral blood of healthy control was 23%. Methylation of RASSF1A gene was associated with age, tumor size, vascular invasion and α fetoprotein (AFP), while SOCS-1 gene methylation was significantly associated with tumor size and AFP. Furthermore, using RASSF1A/ SOCS-1/ AFP panel improve diagnostic sensitivity for HCC 86% and specificity of 75%.
CONCLUSION: RASSF1A and SOCS1 genes methylation status may play an important role in the process of hepatocarcinogenesis and may be used as diagnostic and prognostic noninvasive biomarkers for HCC when combined with serum AFP.

Agdashian D, ElGindi M, Xie C, et al.
The effect of anti-CTLA4 treatment on peripheral and intra-tumoral T cells in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2019; 68(4):599-608 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Checkpoint inhibitors have recently been approved for the treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, biomarkers, which will help identify patients responding to therapy, are missing. We recently tested the combination of anti-CTLA4 treatment (tremelimumab) with loco-regional therapy in patients with HCC and reported a partial response rate of 26%.
METHODS: Here, we report updated survival analyses and results from our immune monitoring studies on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and tumors from these patients.
RESULTS: Tremelimumab therapy increased CD4
CONCLUSION: In summary, we observed a clear activation of T cell responses in HCC patients treated with tremelimumab and identified potential biomarkers which will help identify patients responding to immunotherapy with anti-CTLA4.

Saad-Hussein A, Beshir S, Taha MM, et al.
Early prediction of liver carcinogenicity due to occupational exposure to pesticides.
Mutat Res Genet Toxicol Environ Mutagen. 2019; 838:46-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
Several studies linked between pesticides exposure and development of liver cancer, through several mechanisms inform of genotoxicity, cytotoxicity, tumor promotion, immunotoxicity and hormonal actions. This study aimed to estimate novel biomarkers for early prediction of liver malignancy due to occupational exposure to pesticides in two groups of workers with different socioeconomic standard (highly educated urban researchers and low educated rural pesticides sprayers). This study included 50 urban researchers and 50 rural pesticides sprayers occupationally exposed to pesticides. They were compared with 50 non-exposed urban researchers and 50 non-exposed rural subjects. Several tumor biomarkers were estimated; P53 protein, Alfa fetoprotein (AFP), and Alpha-L-fucosidase (AFU). Additionally, telomerase enzyme activity, Relative telomere length (RTL), and DNA damage using comet assay were measured. Furthermore, the glutathione-S-Transferase (GST) gene polymorphisms were identified for both exposed groups. Statistical analysis revealed elevated level of tumor biomarkers among exposed subjects relative to control groups in spite of being within the normal range. Increase in the DNA damage was detected, with shortening of telomere length and decrease in telomerase enzyme activity in pesticides-exposed subjects compared to their controls. Most of these changes were related to the levels of butyrylcholinesterase. Subjects with GSTT1 genotype were suggested to be more susceptible to hepatic carcinogenicity. Telomere relative length and comets assay together with GST genes polymorphisms could be used as early predictors for liver cancer susceptibility among pesticides exposed workers.

Li Z, Wang Y, Duan S, et al.
Expression of TBX3 in Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Its Clinical Implication.
Med Sci Monit. 2018; 24:9324-9333 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common malignancy in China, and China's annual number of new cases accounts for about 45% of the world total. This research was aimed to study the expression of TBX3 protein in HCC and exploring its clinical significance. MATERIAL AND METHODS We collected tumor tissues and adjacent non-tumoral tissues of 174 patients with HCC undergoing surgical resection. The expression of TBX3 protein in different tissues and cell lines in vitro (LO2, HHL-5, MHC97-L, MHC97-H) was detected by immunohistochemistry or Western blotting, and the relationship between TBX3 expression and clinical data of patients with HCC was analyzed. RESULTS The expression of TBX3 protein in HCC was significantly correlated with histological grade, tumor size, cancer cell metastasis, hepatitis B surface antigen, and the expression of Ki-67 in tumor tissues (P<0.05), and it was positively correlated with serum AFP level (r=0.766, P<0.05). The expression of TBX3 increased with increased histological grade in HCC (P<0.05). Cox regression analysis showed that the expression of TBX3 protein in HCC was an independent risk factor for prognosis (OR=0.524, 95% CI=0.283-0.964). The 5-year survival rate of patients with HCC that highly expressed TBX3 protein was 20.83%, which was significantly lower than the 40.20% rate in patients with low expression (P<0.05). CONCLUSIONS The expression of TBX3 in HCC patients undergoing surgical resection is high, and its expression increases with the degree of tumor differentiation. It is related to the metastasis of tumor cells and is positively correlated with the serum level of AFP and may affect the survival time of HCC patients undergoing surgical resection.

Rose AM, Luo R, Radia UK, et al.
Detection of mutations in SF3B1, EIF1AX and GNAQ in primary orbital melanoma by candidate gene analysis.
BMC Cancer. 2018; 18(1):1262 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Ocular melanoma is a rare but often deadly malignancy that arises in the uvea (commonest primary site), conjunctiva or the orbit. Primary orbital melanoma (POM) is exceedingly rare, with approximately 60 cases reported to date. Despite recent advances in our understanding of the genetics of primary uveal and conjunctival melanomas, this information is lacking for POM.
METHODS: DNA was extracted from 12 POM tissues, with matched germline DNA (where available). MLPA was conducted to detect chromosomal alterations and Sanger sequencing used to identify point mutations in candidate melanoma driver genes (BRAF, NRAS, KRAS, GNA11, GNAQ), and other genes implicated in melanoma prognosis (EIF1AX, SF3B1). Immunohistochemistry was performed to analyse BAP1 nuclear expression.
RESULTS: MLPA detected copy number alterations in chromosomes 1p, 3, 6 and 8. Sequencing of melanoma driver genes revealed GNAQ (p.Q209L) mutations in two samples; although it is possible that these samples represent extraocular spread of an occult uveal melanoma. A recurrent mutation in SF3B1 (p.R625H) was observed in indolent, but not aggressive, tumours; a mutation in EIF1AX (p.N4S) was detected in one patient with non-aggressive disease.
CONCLUSIONS: EIF1AX and SF3B1 mutations appear have a role in determining the clinical course of POM and detection of these changes could have clinical significance. Further in depth analysis of this rare group using differing 'omic technologies will provide novel insights into tumour pathogenesis.

Zhou H, Bao J, Zhu X, et al.
Retinoblastoma Binding Protein 5 Correlates with the Progression in Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
Biomed Res Int. 2018; 2018:1073432 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancy tumors with insidious onset, rapid development and metastasis, and poor prognosis. Therefore, it is necessary to understand molecular mechanisms of HCC and identify clinically useful biomarkers for it. This study aimed to investigate the role of retinoblastoma binding protein 5 (RBBP5) in HCC. The expression level of RBBP5 was examined by immunohistochemistry and western blot. The effect of RBBP5 on cell cycle, proliferation, apoptosis, and drug sensitivity was analyzed. RBBP5 was significantly upregulated in HCC tissues and cells. High RBBP5 expression was significantly associated with elevated level of AFP, advanced TNM stage, high Ki-67 expression, larger tumor size, and poor prognosis. Knockdown of RBBP5 significantly inhibited proliferation of HCC cells through cell cycle arrest. In addition, inhibition of RBBP5 increased the sensitivity of HCC cells to doxorubicin. In conclusion, our findings suggest that RBBP5 plays an important role in the progression of HCC and may serve as a novel biomarker and potential therapeutic target for HCC.

Zhang C, Xia R, Zhang B, Wang H
The predictive powers of plasma trefoil factor 3 or its related micro RNAs for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
BMC Cancer. 2018; 18(1):1110 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Earlier diagnosis is beneficial for the prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Alpha fetoprotein (AFP) is the most widely used biomarker for HCC, but its sensitivity and specificity are only 60 and 90%, respectively. Therefore, it is of great clinical significance to identify early prognostic biomarkers for HCC, especially a blood-based biomarker as it offers several advantages over tissue-based biomarkers. Trefoil factor 3 (TFF3), a novel secretory protein, was over-expressed in HCC tissues, indicating it might be a blood-based biomarker for HCC. In addition, circulating microRNAs have been investigated as biomarkers for HCC, indicating that miR-7-5p and miR-203a-3p, which are reported or predicted to target TFF3, also hold promise as blood-based biomarkers for HCC.
METHODS: We enrolled 43 patients who were firstly diagnosed HCC and matched 47 control subjects without HCC. The levels of TFF3, miR-7-5p and miR-203a-3p were tested in the plasma of HCC patients. Moreover, we assayed the correlation of TFF3 with its related micro RNAs, miR-7-5p and miR-203a-3p, and evaluated their predictive powers for HCC.
RESULTS: Decrease of TFF3 was associated with increase of miR-203a-3p in the plasma of HCC patients and they displayed potent predictive powers for HCC diagnosis. However, there was no significant change of plasma miR-7-5p between HCC and control group.
CONCLUSION: Decrease of TFF3 correlated with increase of miR-203a-3p in the plasma of HCC patients and they could be additional biomarkers to improve sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of HCC.

Ren X, Ji Y, Jiang X, Qi X
Down-regulation of siglec-2 (CD22) predicts worse overall survival from HBV-related early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma: a preliminary analysis from Gene Expression Omnibus.
Biosci Rep. 2018; 38(6) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Sialic-acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin (siglec) regulates cell death, anti-proliferative effects and mediates a variety of cellular activities. Little was known about the relationship between siglecs and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) prognosis. Siglec gene expression between tumor and non-tumor tissues were compared and correlated with overall survival (OS) from HCC patients in GSE14520 microarray expression profile. Siglec-1 to siglec-9 were all down-regulated in tumor tissues compared with those in non-tumor tissues in HCC patients (all

Kuroda N, Yorita K
Clinicopathologic study of 10 cases of gastric adenocarcinoma with hepatoid or enteroblastic differentiation.
Pol J Pathol. 2018; 69(2):128-135 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gastric adenocarcinoma with hepatoid or enteroblastic differentiation (GAHED), known also as AFP-producing carcinoma, is a rare neoplasm. Ten cases with GAHED and 209 cases without GAHED were selected. Clinicopathological features of GAHED were investigated. The disease-free survival (DFS) of the GAHED group was compared with that of the non-GAHED group. Grossly, the tumours consisted of two early types and eight advanced types. Histologically, all tumours were composed of various proportions of tubular, cribriform, papillary, solid, and/or trabecular growth patterns of clear to slightly eosinophilic tumour cells. Hyaline globules were observed in all tumours. AFP and Hep-Par1 were immunoreactive in all tumours. In fluorescence in situ hybridisation of HER2 gene/chromosome 17, the amplification of HER2 gene was observed in two cases that showed positive reaction for HER2 protein. Clinical follow-up was available in nine cases. Regarding the clinical outcome, 3 and 6 patients were alive without disease and alive with disease, respectively. In a statistical analysis, the DFS of the GAHED group was significantly worse than that of the non-GAHED group. GAHED is morphologically characterised by various growth patterns of clear to slightly eosinophilic tumour cells and intracytoplasmic possession of hyaline globules. This tumour may have the potential to behave in an aggressive clinical fashion.

Terbuch A, Adiprasito JB, Stiegelbauer V, et al.
MiR-371a-3p Serum Levels Are Increased in Recurrence of Testicular Germ Cell Tumor Patients.
Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(10) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Metastatic testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) are a potentially curable disease by administration of risk-adapted cytotoxic chemotherapy. Nevertheless, a disease-relapse after curative chemotherapy needs more intensive salvage chemotherapy and significantly worsens the prognosis of TGCT patients. Circulating tumor markers (β-subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (β-HCG), alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP), and Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH)) are frequently used for monitoring disease recurrence in TGCT patients, though they lack diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. Increasing evidence suggests that serum levels of stem cell-associated microRNAs (miR-371a-3p and miR-302/367 cluster) are outperforming the traditional tumor markers in terms of sensitivity to detect newly diagnosed TGCT patients. The aim of this study was to investigate whether these miRNAs are also informative in detection of disease recurrence in TGCT patients after curative first line therapy. For this purpose, we measured the serum levels of miR-371a-3p and miR-367 in 52 samples of ten TGCT patients at different time points during disease relapse and during salvage chemotherapy. In our study, miR-371a-3p levels in serum samples with proven disease recurrence were 13.65 fold higher than levels from the same patients without evidence of disease (

Dong S, Wu Y, Yu S, et al.
Increased EXT1 gene copy number correlates with increased mRNA level predicts short disease-free survival in hepatocellular carcinoma without vascular invasion.
Medicine (Baltimore). 2018; 97(39):e12625 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Exostosin-1 (EXT1) has been demonstrated to participate in the progression of many cancers. However, it has not been previously described in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) without vascular invasion. In this study, we got the accurate data of EXT1 mRNA Z-score from the CBio data portal of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), which was used to express the level of EXT1 gene expression. We analyzed the EXT1 gene expression between HCC and normal liver tissue and compared the clinical significance of tumor tissue's EXT1 gene expression of HCC patients without vascular invasion based on data from TCGA database. The association between EXT1 gene expression and disease-free survival (DFS) was further analyzed. EXT1 gene copy number was also analyzed in this study. Univariate and multivariate analyses showed that high EXT1 gene expression group was significantly poorer than that of the low EXT1 gene expression group (P = .004). In addition, EXT1 gene expression was positively associated with α-fetoprotein (AFP), which is a well-known marker for HCC. There was a significant positive correlation between EXT1 copy number and upregulated EXT1 gene (P < .0001). In conclusion, upregulation of EXT1 could be an important indicator to the short DFS of HCC patients without vascular invasion. EXT1 gene copy number amplification is one of the mechanisms underlying the upregulation of EXT1.

Lin J, Cao Y, Yu L, Lin L
Non-α-fetoprotein-producing adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma: A case report and literature review.
Medicine (Baltimore). 2018; 97(39):e12336 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
RATIONALE: Adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma typically secretes alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). Here, we report a case of non-AFP-producing adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was conducted to identify gene mutations.
PATIENT CONCERNS: A 64-year-old man presented with mild back pain and unexplained weight loss for 3 months.
DIAGNOSES: Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a mass (9.9 × 9.7 × 9.1 mm) above the upper pole of the left kidney. The left renal artery and vein were compressed. The tumor was positive for CK8/18, CK19, CK7, hepatocyte marker (Hepatocyte), and Hep Par 1, but negative for AFP. Plasma AFP was 2.75 ng/mL (normal range: 0-7 ng/mL). NGS revealed mutations of the following genes: ATM, CDKN2A, EGFR, STK11, TP53, BIM, and MLH1. A diagnosis of adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma was established.
INTERVENTIONS: The treatment included 4 cycles of the mFOLFOX6 regimen (oxaliplatin, leucovorin, and fluorouracil), transcatheter arterial chemoembolization, and apatinib.
OUTCOMES: The patient died 9 months after the diagnosis.
LESSONS: This case highlights the importance of thorough clinical, radiological, and immunohistochemical investigation for suspected adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma. Metastasis from other primary tumors should be ruled out. Furthermore, AFP is not necessarily elevated in adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma. NGS could be helpful in establishing the diagnosis and selecting treatments.

Wang D, Zhang X, Lu Y, et al.
Hypoxia inducible factor 1α in hepatocellular carcinoma with cirrhosis: Association with prognosis.
Pathol Res Pract. 2018; 214(12):1987-1992 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) is a protein related with carcinogenesis and metastasis in many tumors. However, little is known about the prognostic value of HIF-1α in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients with cirrhosis.
METHODS: Clinical-pathological information and follow-up data were collected from HCC (n = 419) and chronic hepatitis (n = 49) patients. HIF-1α expression was scored based on the percentage of immunohistochemical staining. Correlations between HIF-1α expression and clinical features were evaluated by Chi-square test. And survival analysis was performed by multivariate Cox regression analysis.
RESULTS: In cirrhosis patients, the frequency of HIF-1α positive expression in HCC was higher than in chronic hepatitis (P = 0.002). HIF-1α positive expression was significantly associated with vascular invasion (P = 0.002), TNM stage (P = 0.005), HBV infection (P = 0.005), tumor size (P = 0.025) and portal vein tumor thrombus (P = 0.001) in HCC with liver cirrhosis. While, in cirrhosis-free patients, HIF-1α positive expression had a significant correlation with vascular invasion (P = 0.039) and AFP value (P = 0.001) in. HIF-1α "positive" had decreased overall survival compared to HIF-1α "negative" patients and this was an independent adverse prognostic factor (multivariable analysis P = 0.001) for HCC patients with cirrhosis, but not for cirrhosis-free patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggested that HIF-1α served as a poor prognostic factor for HCC patients with cirrhosis.

Yang X, Chen L, Liang Y, et al.
Knockdown of alpha-fetoprotein expression inhibits HepG2 cell growth and induces apoptosis.
J Cancer Res Ther. 2018; 14(Supplement):S634-S643 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aims: To explore the biological roles of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a tumor-associated antigen in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Materials and Methods: After knockdown of AFP in HepG2 cells by transfection of specific Stealth™ RNAi, the expression of AFP were detected by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction at mRNA level and by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at the protein level. Then, the effect of silenced AFP on cell proliferation was assessed by dimethylthiazolyl-2,5-diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide assay, and apoptosis assessment with Hoechst33258 and flow cytometry (double stain with fluorescein isothiocyanate/propidium iodide), the roles of AFP in the cell cycle regulation were assessed by flow cytometry. We also detected the expression of some key proteins related to apoptosis pathway by Western immunoblot analysis.
Results: After the transfection for 48 h, the expression of AFP gene was almost abolished, the cell proliferation was inhibited by 47.61%, the number of cells undergoing early apoptosis was significantly increased to 59.47%; cell cycle was arrested with the increase of G0/G1 phase cells from 45.3% to 58.4%. Inhibition of AFP expression also results in decreasing of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), mutant P53 expression, and increasing of Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, activation of caspase-3.
Conclusions: The results suggest that AFP may positively regulate cell proliferation by enhancing the apoptosis resistance via effect on TGF-β and p53/Bax/caspase-3 signaling pathway in HepG2 cells. As such, the knockdown of AFP gene should be further investigated in vivo as a novel approach to HCC treatment.

Yu GI, Mun KH, Yang SH, et al.
Polymorphisms in the 3'-UTR of SCD5 gene are associated with hepatocellular carcinoma in Korean population.
Mol Biol Rep. 2018; 45(6):1705-1714 [PubMed] Related Publications
The purpose of the study was to assess the relationship between polymorphisms of the SCD5 and MMP1 gene and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The gene polymorphisms with a minor allele frequency (MAF) > 0.05 were selected eight SNPs (rs6840, rs1065403, rs3821974, and rs3733230 in 3'-UTR; rs4693472, rs3733227, rs1848067, and rs6535374 in intron region) of SCD5 gene and two SNPs (rs1799750 and rs1144393 in promoter region) of MMP1 gene. The genotype of SCD5 and MMP1 gene SNPs were determined by direct sequencing and pyrosequencing, respectively. One hundred sixty-two patients with HCC and two hundred twenty-five control subjects were recruited in Korean male population. In terms of genotype frequencies, SCD5 genotype TC, GA, AG, and CG of rs6840, rs1065403, rs3821974, and rs3733230, respectively were higher in control group than HCC. In addition, these genotype decreased the risk (rs6840; OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.31-0.99; rs1065403; OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.26-0.83; rs3821974; OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.31-0.99; rs3733230; OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.34-1.12) of HCC, which may work as a prevention of HCC. At least one minor allele carrier of SCD5 gene polymorphisms were related to decreased risk of HCC for AFP cut-point levels > 200 or > 400 ng/ml, respectively. Our results indicate that polymorphisms in the 3'-UTR of the SCD5 gene may associated with HCC in the Korean male population.

Verma A, Bal M, Ramadwar M, et al.
Clinicopathologic characteristics of Wnt/β-catenin-deregulated hepatocellular carcinoma.
Indian J Cancer. 2017 Oct-Dec; 54(4):634-639 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Activation of Wnt/β-catenin pathway has been implicated as a mechanism of oncogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). CTNNB1 mutation, which encodes for β-catenin, has been found to be the most common underlying genetic alteration. In this study, we evaluated the frequency of aberrant β-catenin expression in our cohort of HCC cases and explored its correlation with clinicopathologic features.
METHODS: Fifty-three cases of histologically proven HCC were included in this study. Nuclear expression (with or without cytoplasmic staining) in >5% tumor cells was regarded as positive for β-catenin. Comparison with clinicopathologic features of β-catenin-negative HCC cases (controls) was also done.
RESULTS: Nuclear β-catenin positivity was seen in 20 (37.7%) HCC cases. Median age was 60.5 years, and male-to-female ratio was 5.7:1. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels were normal in half of the patients (P = 0.03). Approximately 36.8% of hepatitis B virus-related, 50% of hepatitis C virus-related, and 35% of viral marker-negative HCC were positive for β-catenin. Median tumor size was 8.7 cm. Majority (53%) of β-catenin-positive HCCs were unicentric, and a significant proportion (65%) displayed a well-differentiated histology (P = 0.11). No specific histological type was associated with β-catenin positivity. Although not statistically significant, more patients (57%) with β-catenin-positive HCCs developed recurrence or progressive disease than β-catenin-negative patients (35%).
CONCLUSIONS: Aberrant β-catenin expression was seen in a substantial proportion of our HCC cases. β-catenin-positive HCC was associated with normal AFP levels, unicentric tumors, well-differentiated histology, and an unfavorable outcome.

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