Potentiality of α-fetoprotein (AFP) and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) in prognosis prediction and immunotherapy response for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma

Bioengineered. 2021 Oct 26. doi: 10.1080/21655979.2021.1990195. Online ahead of print.


ABSTRCTThe α-fetoprotein (AFP) and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) have certain diagnostic value, but their potential value in prognosis prediction, especially immunotherapy response prediction, remains unclear in liver cancer. Through the tumour-free survival (TFS) and overall survival (OS) rates analyses of serum AFP and sICAM-1 levels in 87 patients with primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the patients whose AFP and sICAM-1 levels were normal (AFP < 20 μg/L or sICAM-1 < 1000 μg/L) before surgery or recovered to normal after surgery exhibited a lower tumour recurrence rate and better OS than patients with elevated serum levels of the two markers. Combined analysis showed that patients with synchronously elevated levels of AFP and sICAM-1 showed the lowest TFS and OS. In addition, the RNA-seq data and clinical information of The Cancer Genome Atlas Liver Hepatocellular Carcinoma were collected to analyse the predictive values of AFP and ICAM-1 in the diagnosis, prognosis and immunotherapy of HCC. The results indicated that the combined application of the two indicators had higher accuracy in both the diagnosis and prognostic prediction of HCC by receiver operating characteristic curves. AFP and ICAM-1 were significantly correlated with multiple immune cells in HCC samples but not in normal samples. The patients with low expression of the two indicators were most likely to benefit from the immune checkpoint blockade therapy. In conclusion, AFP and ICAM-1 play vital roles in the diagnosis, prognostic prediction, and immunotherapy of HCC, suggesting that they are considered as prognostic predictors in clinical practice.

Keywords: Immunotherapy response; Prognosis prediction; soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1; α-fetoprotein.