J Cancer 2020; 11(11):3400-3406. doi:10.7150/jca.41090 This issue
1. Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Guangxi Medical University Cancer Hospital, Guangxi, China
2. Graduate School of Health Science, Suzuka University of Medical Science, Suzuka, Japan
*Jie Zhang and Ya-Peng Qi contributed equally to this work.
Background: Dual-phenotype hepatocellular carcinoma (DPHCC) is associated with high rate of post-operative recurrence and low rate of survival, which may reflect the post-operative persistence of cancer stem cells (CSCs). Here we explored the potential correlation between DPHCC and expression of CSCs markers.
Methods: In this retrospective study, we included 19 patients with DPHCC and 61 patients with non-DPHCC treated in 2015 by liver resection. Paraffin-embedded tumor tissue specimens were analyzed using immunohistochemistry as well as immunofluorescence double-staining. Rates of recurrence-free survival and overall survival were compared between the two groups using the Kaplan-Meier method, and expression of the CSC markers CD133, CD90, and EpCAM were compared using real-time quantitative PCR and western blotting.
Results: Overall survival rates were significantly lower for patients with DPHCC than patients with non-DPHCC at 1 year (78.9% vs 93.4%), 2 years (52.6% vs 72.1%), and 3 years (42.1% vs 67.2%) (P = 0.019). Multivariate Cox proportional hazard modeling identified CK19 positivity (P = 0.016) and multiple nodules (P = 0.023) as independent predictors of poor recurrence-free survival. Independent predictors of poor overall survival were CK19 positivity (P = 0.032), Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage C (P = 0.025) and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) >37 ng/ml (P = 0.016). Expression of CD133 and EpCAM mRNA and protein were significantly higher in DPHCC tissue than non-DPHCC tissue, while CD90 expression was similar between the groups.
Conclusions: These results suggest that DPHCC is associated with significantly lower overall survival than non-DPHCC, and that the poor prognosis among DPHCC patients may be related to the presence of CSCs expressing CD133 and EpCAM.
Keywords: dual-phenotype hepatocellular carcinoma, prognosis, Cancer stem cells, CD133, EpCAM