Background/aims: The development of human malignancies can be attributed to aberrant regulation of intracellular signal transduction pathways. In the current study, we aimed to evaluate focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a non-receptor tyrosine kinase, expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and to explore the prognostic significance of FAK.
Methods: We investigated FAK mRNA expression in 60 HCC specimens using quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis, and the correlation between FAK expression and clinicopathologic parameters. FAK protein expression was examined using Western blot analysis and an immunohistochemical study.
Results: We found that FAK mRNA was overexpressed in HCCs compared with the corresponding non-cancerous liver tissues (P=0.0008). The FAK overexpression correlated significantly with tumor size (P=0.034) and serum AFP level (P=0.030). Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed that FAK mRNA expression was an independent prognostic factor for disease-free (risk ratio 3.83; P=0.024) and overall (risk ratio 7.14; P=0.015) survival. Besides, we confirmed immunohistochemically that the FAK protein was detectable in cancer cells despite non-expression in corresponding non-cancerous tissues.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that FAK mRNA expression has prognostic significance for the survival of patients with HCC.