Background: Neovascularization plays a crucial pathogenic role in tumor development and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) is a key signaling element that drives angiogenesis, thereby facilitating hepatocellular cancer (HCC) growth and metastasis. We aimed to define the relationship between serum VEGF-A levels and clinical outcomes in a cohort of Turkish patients with HCC.
Methods: We enrolled and prospectively followed 84 patients with HCC in our study. Serum VEGF-A levels were measured and we assessed the association between VEGF-A levels and clinical features.
Results: Forty-eight patients had cirrhosis while 35 patients were noncirrhotic. Serum VEGF-A levels were significantly lower in HCC patients with cirrhosis compared to non-cirrhotic HCC patients (p = 0.03).In terms of viral hepatitis subtype, 36 (%42.8) of patients were hepatitis B virus (HBV) positive and 8 (%9.5) of patients were hepatitis C virus (HCV) positive. Patients with serum VEGF-A levels ≥100 pg/mL had significantly lower OS rates than patients with serum VEGF-A level <100 pg/mL (p = 0.01). The OS rates were 5.8 and 14.2 months, respectively (p = 0.02). The median OS was 7.38 months (95% CI: 5.89-13.79 months). We observed a significant relationship between serum VEGF-A level and tumor size. Patients with tumor size ≤ 5cm had lower VEGF-A levels than patients with VEGF-A levels <5 cm. The VEGF-A levels were 132.7 and 342.1 pg/mL, respectively (p < 0.001). The median follow-up was 32 months.
Conclusions: Serum VEGF-A level, a biological marker of angiogenesis, is an independent predictor of survival in patients with HCC. Serum VEGF-A levels may be utilized to predict response to treatment targeting serum VEGF-A in patients with HCC.
Keywords: hepatitis B; hepatocellular cancer; overall survival; prognosis; vascular endothelial growth factor-A.