Gut and Liver Stem Cell Markers Predict the Response to Sorafenib in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Author Information
Bo Hyun Kim1,2, Joong-Won Park1,2, Jin Sook Kim2, Sook-Kyung Lee2, and Eun Kyung Hong1
1Center for Liver Cancer, and 2Common Cancer Branch, Division of Clinical Research, Research Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea

Joong-Won Park
Center for Liver Cancer, National Cancer Center, 323 Ilsan-ro, Ilsandong-gu, Goyang 10408, Korea
Tel: +82-31-920-1605, Fax: +82-31-920-1520, E-mail: jwpark@ncc.re.kr
© The Korean Society of Gastroenterology, the Korean Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, Korean College of Helicobacter and Upper Gastrointestinal Research, Korean Association the Study of Intestinal Diseases, the Korean Association for the Study of the Liver, Korean Pancreatobiliary Association, and Korean Society of Gastrointestinal Cancer. All rights reserved.

Abstract
Background/Aims: Sorafenib remains the only approved molecular targeted agent for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); however, reliable biomarkers that predict its efficacy are still lacking. The aim of this study was to explore whether cancer stem cell (CSC) markers have a predictive role with regard to the sorafenib response in HCC patients. Methods: We enrolled 47 patients with HCC for whom tumor samples obtained before starting sorafenib treatment were available. RNA was extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples, and real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify mRNA expression of the CSC genes EpCAM, CD13, CK8, CD24, CD44, CD90, CD133, SALL4, ALDH1A1, ALB, and AFP. Results: Of 47 patients, 14.9% and 74.5% had vascular invasion and extrahepatic spread, respectively. Patients with low CD133 expression tended to have longer progression-free survival (PFS) than those with high CD133 expression (5.5 months vs 4.0 months), although without statistical significance. The expression levels of other markers were not associated with PFS. When examining markers in combination, patients with high CD133 and CD90 expression had shorter PFS rates than those with low expression (2.7 months vs 5.5 months; p=0.04). Patients with low CD133 and EpCAM expression demonstrated better PFS than those with high expression (7.0 months vs 4.2 months; p=0.04). Multivariable analysis indicated that an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of 1 and high CD133/CD90 expression were significantly associated with shorter PFS. Conclusions: Overexpression of the CSC markers CD133 and CD90 in HCC was associated with poorer response to sorafenib. These two genes may serve as predictive biomarkers for sorafenib therapy.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Cancer stem cells; Carcinoma, hepatocellular; Prognosis; Sorafenib
Abstract
Background/Aims: Sorafenib remains the only approved molecular targeted agent for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); however, reliable biomarkers that predict its efficacy are still lacking. The aim of this study was to explore whether cancer stem cell (CSC) markers have a predictive role with regard to the sorafenib response in HCC patients. Methods: We enrolled 47 patients with HCC for whom tumor samples obtained before starting sorafenib treatment were available. RNA was extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples, and real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify mRNA expression of the CSC genes EpCAM, CD13, CK8, CD24, CD44, CD90, CD133, SALL4, ALDH1A1, ALB, and AFP. Results: Of 47 patients, 14.9% and 74.5% had vascular invasion and extrahepatic spread, respectively. Patients with low CD133 expression tended to have longer progression-free survival (PFS) than those with high CD133 expression (5.5 months vs 4.0 months), although without statistical significance. The expression levels of other markers were not associated with PFS. When examining markers in combination, patients with high CD133 and CD90 expression had shorter PFS rates than those with low expression (2.7 months vs 5.5 months; p=0.04). Patients with low CD133 and EpCAM expression demonstrated better PFS than those with high expression (7.0 months vs 4.2 months; p=0.04). Multivariable analysis indicated that an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of 1 and high CD133/CD90 expression were significantly associated with shorter PFS. Conclusions: Overexpression of the CSC markers CD133 and CD90 in HCC was associated with poorer response to sorafenib. These two genes may serve as predictive biomarkers for sorafenib therapy.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Cancer stem cells; Carcinoma, hepatocellular; Prognosis; Sorafenib
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