EFNA1 ligand and its receptor EphA2: potential biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma

Int J Cancer. 2010 Feb 15;126(4):940-9. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24798.


Novel biomarkers are needed for early detection and progression evaluation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The purpose of this study was to identify useful biomolecular markers for HCC. The 26 genes that encode membrane or secretory proteins were identified from cDNA microarray data. We further examined the expression of EFNA1 and its receptor EphA2 and determined their biological implications during the development and progression of HCC. The EFNA1 mRNA was overexpressed in most HCCs as compared with its expression in corresponding nontumor tissues (36 out of 40 cases, 90%), but EphA2 expression was noted in only half of the HCC tissues (20 of 40 cases, 50%). In most of the hepatoma cell lines, the EFNA1 protein expression was positively associated with alpha-fetoprotien (AFP) expression but inversely associated with EphA2 expression. Furthermore, EFNA1 levels were detectable in the supernatant of the cultured hepatoma cells and in the serum of patients with HCC. In contrast, EphA2 expression was prominent in highly invasive hepatoma cells, and its overexpression was significantly correlated with decreased differentiation (r = 0.0248, p < 0.010) and poor survival (p = 0.0453) for HCC patients. EFNA1 and EphA2 may be useful serum markers for the detection of HCC development and progression, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Primers
  • Ephrin-A1 / genetics
  • Ephrin-A1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptor, EphA2 / genetics
  • Receptor, EphA2 / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA Primers
  • Ephrin-A1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, EphA2