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Reuters Health Information (2004-06-02): New biomarkers may predict liver tumor aggressiveness


New biomarkers may predict liver tumor aggressiveness

Last Updated: 2004-06-02 13:30:54 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and the tumor-suppressing gene Rb2/p130 may serve as prognostic markers of the aggressiveness of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), according to a report in the May 15th issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

A number of molecular factors have already been shown to be associated with HCC invasiveness, the authors explain, but the identification of other markers is important for predicting patient outcomes and tailoring treatment.

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio from Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the expression of p27, PCNA, tumor-suppressor protein Rb2/p130, and VEGF in 21 cases of HCC to determine their usefulness as prognostic indicators for HCC.

Lack of pRb2/p130 expression and higher VEGF expression were associated with a trend to poor survival, the authors report, and their levels were significantly negatively correlated.

Levels of pRb2/p130 decreased as tumor malignancy increased and tumor cells became less differentiated, the report indicates, whereas VEGF was undetectable in low-grade HCC tumors but increased in advanced tumor malignancy.

Like VEGF, PCNA expression was high in poorly differentiated HCC specimens and progressively decreased in moderately and well-differentiated HCC specimens, the researchers note.

"The majority of the tumors were p27-negative regardless of grade and patient survival," Dr. Claudio told Reuters Health. "In this case, other biological markers are necessary to serve as prognostic indicators."

"The inverse relationship between pRb2/p130 and VEGF can serve as a prognostic indicator to predict which tumors will acquire the necessary genetic modifications to become biologically aggressive even at an early grade," Dr. Claudio said. "This may serve as a valuable tool to direct management decisions early in the course of therapy."

"It is possible that the inverse relationship between the two biomarkers pRb2/p130 and VEGF may exist in other cancer types as well," Dr. Claudio added. "Therefore, it would be necessary to further investigate these proteins in other cancer types."

Clin Cancer Res 2004;10:3509-3517.

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