Department of Gastroenterology, Asan Liver Center, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
BACKGROUND AND AIM:
This study aimed to investigate the prognostic value of expression of hepatocyte nuclear factors (HNFs) involved in hepatic gene transcription in patients undergoing curative resection for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
We performed immunohistochemical analyses on microarrays of the tumors and matched adjacent tissue using antibodies against HNF1α, HNF1β, HNF4α, and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). We evaluated the prognostic value of biomarker expression using Cox regression and the Kaplan-Meier method in a training cohort of 220 patients, and conducted an independent validation in 232 patients. We also determined whether measurement of HNFs improved risk prediction beyond the use of established factors, using net reclassification improvement (NRI).
Post-surgical recurrence and hepatic death were predicted by intratumoral HNF4α underexpression in both cohorts. In the training cohort they were also predicted by peritumoral HNF1α positivity. A pooled cohort analysis showed that these predictors were independently associated with early but not late phase recurrence, and resultant mortality. Intratumoral expression levels of HNF4α were correlated with those of HNF1α, HNF1β, and AFP (P<0.05). Similarly HNF1α expression in peritumoral tissue was correlated with that of other markers (P<0.05). There was no significant correlation between expression of HNF4α in tumors and HNF1α in peritumoral tissue. Adding combinations of intratumoral HNF4α and peritumoral HNF1α to 2-year recurrence and 5-year mortality models including known clinicopathological prognostic factors significantly improved the NRI indexes (39% and 44%, respectively; P<0.05).
Immunohistological activation of intratumoral HNF4α and depletion of peritumoral HNF1α have prognostic significance for delayed recurrence and death after HCC resection.