Molecular mechanisms of hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatology. 2008 Dec;48(6):2047-63. doi: 10.1002/hep.22580.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) typically has poor prognosis, because it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. Heterogeneous phenotypic and genetic traits of affected individuals and a wide range of risk factors have classified it a complex disease. HCC is not amenable to standard chemotherapy and is resistant to radiotherapy. In most cases, surgical resection and liver transplantation remain the only curative treatment options. Therefore, development of novel, effective therapies is of prime importance. Extensive research over the past decade has identified a number of molecular biomarkers as well as cellular networks and signaling pathways affected in liver cancer. Recent studies using a combination of "omics" technologies, microRNA studies, combinatorial chemistry, and bioinformatics are providing new insights into the gene expression and protein profiles during various stages of the disease. In this review, we discuss the contribution of these newer approaches toward an understanding of molecular mechanisms of HCC and for the development of novel cancer therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / physiopathology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor