Researchers say that they have found a unique pattern of miRNAs that accurately predicts whether hepatocellular carcinoma will spread and whether patients, even those with early-stage disease, will have shorter or longer survival.
In the study, the investigators analyzed the miRNA expression profiles in cancerous and noncancerous liver samples from 131 patients with or without metastasis who underwent surgery. They identified a set of 20 miRNAs with different patterns of expression in tumors with metastasis compared to tumors without metastasis.
Using the new gene expression profile, the scientists found that patients with the metastasis-miRNA profile had a twofold higher risk of shorter survival compared to those without the profile.
“This is an important and unique finding because it is the first study to show that miRNAs play a significant role in liver metastasis,” says the study”s lead author, Anuradha Budhu, Ph.D., a staff scientist at the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research.
The study was conducted by researchers at the NCI, Ohio State University, and the Liver Cancer Institute in Shanghai. The paper is published in the online January 7 issue of Hepatology.