Predicting the treatment effect of sorafenib using serum angiogenesis markers in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Nov;26(11):1604-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2011.06887.x.


Background and aim: Sorafenib, the first agent demonstrated to have efficacy to improve the survival of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is an active multikinase inhibitor affecting angiogenesis and tumor proliferation. We analyzed cytokines related to angiogenesis or cell proliferation, and tried to determine their utility as biomarkers of sorafenib treatment effect for HCC.

Methods: Nine serum cytokines (angiopoietin-2 [Ang-2], follistatin, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor [G-CSF], hepatocyte growth factor [HGF], interleukin-8 [IL-8], leptin, platelet-derived growth factor-BB, platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor) were measured in 30 HCC patients treated with sorafenib, and the effects of treatment were compared using modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors.

Results: All but IL-8 were significantly higher at baseline in patients with progressive disease. Progression-free survival was significantly shorter in patients with high levels of Ang-2, G-CSF, HGF, and leptin, and the hazard ratios were 2.51, 6.89, 2.55, and 4.14, respectively. As the number of cytokines at a high level increased, the treatment response deteriorated. Disease progression was seen in three of 12 (25.0%) patients with zero to two high biomarkers, two of six (33.3%) patients with 3-5 high biomarkers, and 10 of 12 (83.3%) patients with six to eight high biomarkers (P=0.008). The prognosis of all patients with eight high biomarkers was progressive disease.

Conclusion: High levels of serum cytokines at baseline were correlated with poor effects of sorafenib treatment in patients with HCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiogenic Proteins / blood*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzenesulfonates / adverse effects
  • Benzenesulfonates / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / blood
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Pyridines / adverse effects
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sorafenib
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Up-Regulation


  • Angiogenic Proteins
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzenesulfonates
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cytokines
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyridines
  • Niacinamide
  • Sorafenib