1. Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, 12 Wulumuqi Middle Road, Shanghai 200040, People's Republic of China.
2. School of medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 227 Chongqing South Road, Shanghai 200025, People's Republic of China.
3. School of Basic Medical Sciences, Fudan University, 130 Dongan Road, Shanghai 200032, People's Republic of China.
Background: Circulating exosomal microRNAs (miRNAs) are considered as potentially non-invasive biomarkers for early detection and prognosis of cancers. Due to the lack of highly sensitive and specific molecular markers, a lot of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma are diagnosed in advanced stages. This study aims to explore the expression mode and clinical detection value of serum exosomal miR-34a in HCC, providing new potential targets and theoretical basis for the early diagnosis and prognosis monitoring of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Methods: The expression of serum exosomal miR-34a in 60 HCC patients before and after operation and 60 healthy examiners was abstracted and detected by ultracentrifugation and real-time quantitative PCR. Using ROC analysis, Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and Cox regression analysis, the value of serum exosomal miR-34a on diagnosis and prognosis in HCC patients was assessed.
Results: The expression level of serum exosomal miR-34a in preoperative patients was reduced significantly comparing with that in healthy examiners and postoperative patients (P<0.01; P<0.05). Moreover, the decrease of serum exosomal miR-34a was correlated significantly with differentiation degree, TNM stage, tumor infiltration depth and lymph node metastasis(P<0.05), but had no statistical differences with gender, age, ALT, AST, viral infection, cirrhosis and tumor size of HCC patients (P>0.05). At the same time, the combination of serum exosomal miR-34a and α-fetoprotein (AFP) showed high capability on diagnosis to distinguish healthy examiners and HCC patients through ROC analysis. The overall survival of patients with lower expression of serum exosomal miR-34a was worse than that of patients with high level expression by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis (P<0.05). Univariate and multivariate Cox regression analysis both showed that serum exosomal miR-34a was independently related to OS.
Conclusions: Collectively, serum exosomal miR-34a is significantly down-regulated in HCC patients and might be a novel noninvasive biomarker for diagnosis and prognosis of HCC.
Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma, exosome, miR-34a, molecular biomarker, diagnosis, prognosis