Background & aims: Cirrhosis affects 1% to 2% of the world population and is the major risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hepatitis C cirrhosis-related HCC is the most rapidly increasing cause of cancer death in the United States. Noninvasive methods have been developed to identify patients with asymptomatic early-stage cirrhosis, increasing the burden of HCC surveillance, but biomarkers are needed to identify patients with cirrhosis who are most in need of surveillance. We investigated whether a liver-derived 186-gene signature previously associated with outcomes of patients with HCC is prognostic for patients with newly diagnosed cirrhosis but without HCC.
Methods: We performed gene expression profile analysis of formalin-fixed needle biopsy specimens from the livers of 216 patients with hepatitis C-related early-stage (Child-Pugh class A) cirrhosis who were prospectively followed up for a median of 10 years at an Italian center. We evaluated whether the 186-gene signature was associated with death, progression of cirrhosis, and development of HCC.
Results: Fifty-five (25%), 101 (47%), and 60 (28%) patients were classified as having poor-, intermediate-, and good-prognosis signatures, respectively. In multivariable Cox regression modeling, the poor-prognosis signature was significantly associated with death (P = .004), progression to advanced cirrhosis (P < .001), and development of HCC (P = .009). The 10-year rates of survival were 63%, 74%, and 85% and the annual incidence of HCC was 5.8%, 2.2%, and 1.5% for patients with poor-, intermediate-, and good-prognosis signatures, respectively.
Conclusions: A 186-gene signature used to predict outcomes of patients with HCC is also associated with outcomes of patients with hepatitis C-related early-stage cirrhosis. This signature might be used to identify patients with cirrhosis in most need of surveillance and strategies to prevent the development of HCC.
Copyright © 2013 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.