Identification of metastasis-related microRNAs in hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatology. 2008 Mar;47(3):897-907. doi: 10.1002/hep.22160.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been used as cancer-related biomarkers. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive cancer with a dismal outcome largely due to metastasis and postsurgical recurrence. We investigated whether the expression of certain miRNAs are associated with HCC metastasis. We examined the miRNA expression profiles of 482 cancerous and noncancerous specimens from radical resection of 241 patients with HCC. Using a supervised algorithm and a clinically well-defined cohort of 131 cases, we built a unique 20-miRNA metastasis signature that could significantly predict (P < 0.001) primary HCC tissues with venous metastases from metastasis-free solitary tumors with 10-fold cross-validation. However, significant miRNAs could not be identified from the corresponding noncancerous hepatic tissues. A survival risk prediction analysis revealed that a majority of the metastasis-related miRNAs were associated with survival. Furthermore, the 20-miRNA tumor signature was validated in 110 additional cases as a significant independent predictor of survival (P = 0.009) and was significantly associated with both survival and relapse in 89 cases of early stage HCC (P = 0.022 and 0.002, respectively). These 20 miRNAs may provide a simple profiling method to assist in identifying patients with HCC who are likely to develop metastases/recurrence. In addition, functional analysis of these miRNAs may enhance our biological understanding of HCC metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / secondary*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • MicroRNAs / analysis*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis


  • MicroRNAs