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Expression of Fibrogenic Markers in Tumor and Tumor-Surrounding Tissue at Time of Transplantation Correlates with Recurrence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients Undergoing Liver Transplantation

Peri Kocabayoglu, Katja Piras-Straub, Guido Gerken, Andreas Paul, Kerstin Herzer

(Department of General, Visceral, and Transplantation Surgery, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany)

Ann Transplant 2017; 22:446-454

DOI: 10.12659/AOT.903497

BACKGROUND: Liver transplantation (LT) remains the only curative treatment option for patients with defined stages of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Up to 25% of patients show a tumor recurrence following transplantation. The correlation of fibrogenic markers prior to LT with HCC recurrence has not been characterized. We explored the expression of fibrogenic markers in tumor tissue and tumor-surrounding liver tissue of patients undergoing LT and correlated these findings with tumor recurrence.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Fibrogenic marker expression in explanted livers was assessed using tumor and tumor-surrounding liver tissue from patients who recently underwent liver transplantation at our center with a follow-up period of at least 3 years. Tissue was analyzed for the expression of fibrogenic proteins and genes, as well as collagen deposition into the extracellular matrix. Results were correlated with HCC recurrence.
RESULTS: Patients with recurrent HCC following LT exhibited increased levels of fibrogenic markers on both protein and RNA level within the non-tumorous liver tissue in comparison to the tumor tissue itself. Patients who did not develop tumor recurrence up to 4 years after LT showed a reversed expression pattern of fibrogenic markers with decreased levels of β-PDGFR, Collagen 1, and α-SMA in their non-tumorous liver tissue versus the tumor tissue at time of LT as assessed in protein and mRNA expression analysis. These findings correlated with analysis of collagen deposition in the liver.
CONCLUSIONS: Fibrogenic markers exhibit a differential expression pattern in HCC versus non-tumorous tissue in explanted livers of patients undergoing LT, showing a correlation with HCC recurrence.

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