Department of Pathology, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Notch signaling is critical to physiologic angiogenesis and has been implicated in tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. Notch signaling was reported to exert either oncogenic or tumor-suppressive function in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tumorigenesis. However, the prognostic significance of Notch receptors in HCC remains uncertain. In this study, we investigated the roles of Notch receptors in the prognosis of HCC.
We investigated the expressions of Notch receptors in tumor tissue microarrays of 288 patients with primary HCC who had undergone curative resection using immunohistochemistry. Additionally, prognostic factors of HCC were examined by univariate and multivariate analyses. The median follow-up period was 97.1 months. Tumor recurrence was detected in 189 patients (65.6%), and 99 (34.4%) died of HCC.
Cytoplasmic expression of Notch1, cytoplasmic expression of Notch3, coexistent nuclear expression of Notch3, and cytoplasmic Notch4 overexpression were observed in 145 (50.3%), 60 (20.8%), 17 (5.9%), and 172 (59.7%) of the 288 HCCs, respectively. Multivariate analyses revealed that Notch1 expression (P=0.029), Edmondson grade III (P=0.038), and higher BCLC stage (P<0.001) were independent predictors of shorter disease-free survival. Cytoplasmic Notch3 expression tended to be an independent predictor of shorter disease-free survival (P=0.055). Notch1 expression (P=0.039), Notch4 overexpression (P=0.012), and higher BCLC stage (P<0.001) were independent predictors of shorter disease-specific survival. On univariate analysis, Notch1 expression tended to show an unfavorable influence on disease-specific survival (P=0.063) and Notch4 overexpression did not show an unfavorable influence on disease-specific survival (P=0.103).
Notch1 expression might be an independent predictor of both shorter disease-free survival and shorter disease-specific survival in HCC patients after curative resection. Notch4 overexpression might be an independent predictor of shorter disease-specific survival. Notch1 could be used as an immunohistochemical biomarker to detect patients with a high-risk of recurrence. Notch1 and Notch4 could be used as immunohistochemical biomarkers to detect patients with a shorter disease-specific survival.