Objective: Although great success has been achieved in cancer treatment, current cancer therapies, including anti-tumorigenesis and anti-angiogenesis, still face the problems of insufficient efficacy, resistance and intrinsic refractoriness, in addition to their toxic side effects. There is a demand to identify additional targets that can be blocked to turn off the downstream effects of most, if not all, pathways. Our studies suggest that orphan nuclear receptor TR3 (human)/Nur77 (mouse) is such a target. Most recently, we reported that TR3/Nur77 expression in human hepatic cancer tissues correlates well with tumor progress, suggesting that TR3 is a specific therapeutic target for hepatic cancers. However, the correlation of TR3/Nur77 expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with chronic hepatitis has not been studied.
Methods: The expression of TR3/Nur77 was analyzed in human primary hepatic cancer specimens from patients that have complete medical records with Immunohistochemically staining. The statistical analysis was used to access the significance of TR3 expression in tumor tissues, cirrhosis tissues and chronic hepatitis tissues with and without hepatitis B virus infection (HBV(+) and HBV(-)), which were obtained from para-tumor tissues.
Results: The positive rates of TR3/Nur77 expression in hepatocellular carcinoma, cancerous liver cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis are 66.67%, 30%, and 20%, respectively, which are statistic significant (p<0.05). The positive rates of TR3/Nur77 expression in hepatocellular carcinoma are statistic significant (p<0.05) with 81.25% and 20% in HBV (+) or HBV (-), respectively.
Conclusion: The positive expression rate of TR3/Nur77 in hepatocellular carcinoma is higher than that in chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. The positive rate of TR3/Nur77 expression in hepatocellular carcinoma is higher with HBV infection than that without infection. Our results suggest that TR3/Nur77 plays an important role in the progression of chronic hepatitis, and the occurrence and development of HCC.
Keywords: Chronic hepatitis; Cirrhosis; Hepatitis B virus (HBV); Hepatocellular carcinoma; Nuclear orphan receptor TR3; Nur77.