Genes and viruses in hepatobiliary neoplasia

Semin Surg Oncol. Sep-Oct 2000;19(2):84-93. doi: 10.1002/1098-2388(200009)19:2<84::aid-ssu2>;2-0.


Hepatobiliary neoplasms comprise a significant portion of the worldwide cancer burden. Advances in basic science research have led to rapid progress in our understanding of the molecular events responsible for these dreaded diseases. The genetic changes associated with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have received the most attention. Aflatoxin B1 exposure leads to mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene, most commonly a transversion in codon 249 that leads to a substitution of serine for arginine in the p53 protein. Numerous other tumor suppressor genes, oncogenes, and tumor gene pathways are altered in HCC. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is strongly associated with HCC. HBV may cause HCC either directly via the HBV X protein, or indirectly by causing liver inflammation and cirrhosis. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is also associated with HCC. Recent evidence suggests that the HCV core protein may play a role in hepatocarcinogenesis. Several inherited metabolic diseases are associated with HCC. It is likely that these diseases cause HCC indirectly by causing cirrhosis. The molecular pathogenesis of cholangiocarcinoma and gallbladder cancer has not been well defined. However, multiple tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes, including p53 and K-ras, are altered in these tumors. Further molecular characterization of hepatobiliary tumors may lead to earlier diagnosis, better staging, improved treatment planning, and the development of more effective therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / etiology
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / etiology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / virology*
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor*
  • Genes, p53 / genetics
  • Genes, ras / genetics
  • Hepatitis B / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Liver Cirrhosis
  • Liver Neoplasms / etiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology*
  • Oncogenes*