Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has a high mortality rate and early detection of HCC is crucial for the application of effective treatment strategies. HCC is typically caused by either viral hepatitis infection or by fatty liver disease. To diagnose and treat HCC it is necessary to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms. As a major cause for development of HCC is fatty liver disease, we here investigated anomalies in regulation of lipid metabolism in the liver. We applied a tailored network-based approach to identify signaling hubs associated with regulation of this part of metabolism. Using transcriptomics data of HCC patients, we identified significant dysregulated expressions of lipid-regulated genes, across many different lipid metabolic pathways. Our findings, however, show that viral hepatitis causes HCC by a distinct mechanism, less likely involving lipid anomalies. Based on our analysis we suggest signaling hub genes governing overall catabolic or anabolic pathways, as novel drug targets for treatment of HCC that involves lipid anomalies.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.