Source Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama, Japan Department of Molecular Hepatology, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama, Japan.
Background and Aim: Sorafenib, the first agent demonstrated to have efficacy to improve the survival of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is an active multikinase inhibitor affecting angiogenesis and tumor proliferation. We analyzed cytokines related to angiogenesis or cell proliferation, and tried to determine their utility as biomarkers of sorafenib treatment effect for HCC.
Methods: Nine serum cytokines (angiopoietin-2 [Ang-2], follistatin, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor [G-CSF], hepatocyte growth factor [HGF], interleukin-8 [IL-8], leptin, platelet-derived growth factor-BB, platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor) were measured in 30 HCC patients treated with sorafenib, and the effects of treatment were compared using modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors.
Results: All but IL-8 were significantly higher at baseline in patients with progressive disease. Progression-free survival was significantly shorter in patients with high levels of Ang-2, G-CSF, HGF, and leptin, and the hazard ratios were 2.51, 6.89, 2.55, and 4.14, respectively. As the number of cytokines at a high level increased, the treatment response deteriorated. Disease progression was seen in three of 12 (25.0%) patients with zero to two high biomarkers, two of six (33.3%) patients with 3-5 high biomarkers, and 10 of 12 (83.3%) patients with six to eight high biomarkers (P = 0.008). The prognosis of all patients with eight high biomarkers was progressive disease.
Conclusion: High levels of serum cytokines at baseline were correlated with poor effects of sorafenib treatment in patients with HCC.