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Proteins Expressed in Liver Cancer May Indicate Prognosis

Correlation with disease invasiveness and metastasis found for regulators Snail and Twist

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- The expression of certain epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) protein regulators in primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are correlated with disease invasiveness, metastasis and a poor prognosis, according to a study in the November issue of Hepatology.

Muh-Hwa Yang, M.D., of the National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan, and colleagues compared 123 samples of HCC liver tissue with adjacent non-cancer tissue from patients who had liver surgery from 1990 to 2002. The researchers examined the tissues for expression of markers of EMT, which is thought to drive cancer invasiveness and metastasis.

The researchers found decreased E-cadherin and nonmembranous β-catenin expression, two indications of EMT, in 60.2 and 51.5 percent of HCC tissue samples, respectively. They also found overexpression of the major EMT protein regulators Snail, Twist, or Slug in 56.9, 43.1, and 51.4 percent of HCC tissue samples, respectively. Co-expression of Snail and Twist expression correlated with decreased E-cadherin and nonmembranous β-catenin and produced the worst prognosis for HCC patients, but the correlation was not found for overexpression of Slug.

"These results elaborate on the major mechanisms involved in HCC metastasis and provide essential information for prediction of prognosis and identification of new treatment targets for future HCC management," the authors write.

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