Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most fatal malignancies with high death rate worldwide. And Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the most relevant risk factor of HCC. China has a high incidence rate of HCC. It is one of the most important research goal for the National Key Project to lower the incidence and mortality of HCC.
However, HCC patients are commonly asymptomatic at the early stage, and the early metastasis leads to poor outcomes. Thus, new biomarkers for the screen of HCC are greatly needed.
The discovery and identification of metabolic biomarkers of hepatocellular (Image by YIN Peiyuan)
To address this challenge, Prof. XU Guowang et al. from Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP), Chinese Academy of Sciences identified a novel biomarker panel for the early diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma. This work has been published in Hepatology.
This group cooperated with 6 domestic hospitals to study 1448 individuals, including health controls, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, HCC and intrahepatic cholangiocellular carcinoma, etc. By using home-developed pseudotargeted metabolomics method, a novel biomarker pattern consisting of phenylalanyl-tryptophan and glycocholate was found and identified.
The results showed that this panel had a higher diagnostic performance than α-fetoprotein (AFP), which is the traditional biomarker for HCC. Besides, this panel showed a better performance to distinguish small HCC: 80.6% of the AFP false-negative patients with HCC were correctly diagnosed using this panel in the test set. The specificity and biological relevance of the identified biomarkers were further evaluated using sera from other two cancers and HCC tissue specimens, respectively.
In the nested case-control study, this panel had high sensitivity (rang 80.0-70.3%) to detect preclinical HCC. And its combination with AFP provided better risk prediction of preclinical HCC before clinical diagnosis.
This study has been supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China on Precision Medicine, the National Key Project of Science and Technology of China, the projects and key project from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.