Early-onset hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for 15%-20% of total HCC cases in Asia, and the incidence is increasing. The low frequency of cirrhosis and poor prognosis of early-onset HCC suggests that its mechanisms may differ from late-onset HCC. Although hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is epidemiologically associated with HCC, the role of HBV in early-onset HCC remains poorly understood. Here, we report a comparative study of HBV subgenotypes and integration in early- (≤30) and late-onset (≥70) HBV-associated HCC using a novel high-throughput viral integration detection method. We report that HBV B2 is predominantly present in early-onset HCC. HBV integration is a common phenomenon, both in early- and late-onset HCC, which favors integrating into human repeat regions. Moreover, we found a breakpoint in 8q24 located between c-Myc and plasmocytoma variant translocation 1 (PVT1), which was detected in 12.4% (14 of 113) of early-onset HCCs, but only 1.4% (2 of 145) in late-onset HCCs. HBV integrating this site results in c-MYC, PVT1, and microRNA-1204 overexpression in tumors, thereby potentially contributing to the development of early-onset HCC.
Conclusion: HBV genotype and integration patterns may be distinct in early-onset HCC. Our results may shed light on HCC risk factors in young HBV carriers. Further studies are needed to elucidate at which time in tumor development this integration event occurs and whether it plays an important, causative role in HCC development or progression.
© 2015 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.