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Eur J Cancer. 2001 Sep;37(13):1695-702.

Decreased expression of Bid in human hepatocellular carcinoma is related to hepatitis B virus X protein.

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Department of Surgery, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong.


As a mitochondrial membrane death ligand, Bid oligomerises Bak to release cytochrome C and its deficiency renders hepatocytes resistant to apoptosis induced by Fas. The Bid level in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is unknown. In this report, we examined the expression of Bid protein and mRNA in HCC cancerous tissues and their corresponding non-cancerous ones. The effect of the hepatitis B x protein (HBx) on the expression of Bid was also evaluated by transfecting hepatoma cells with the HBx gene. The results showed that the expression of Bid was significantly lower in cancerous tissues than that in their corresponding non-cancerous tissues. Immunohistochemical study revealed that Bid molecule was mainly localised in hepato-cytoplasm. Some nuclei were also positive for Bid antigen though to a lesser degree. In vitro experiments demonstrated that the expression of Bid in cells transfected with HBx was significantly lower than that in the cells without HBx transfection. This finding suggests that HBx may play a causative role in the reduction of Bid expression in HCC. This in vitro result is, to some degree, supported by clinical data that all the HCC examined are positive for hepatitis B virus (HBV). We conclude from this data that the expression of Bid in HCC is significantly decreased and the reduction of Bid may result from a mechanism associated with HBx, a major hepatocarcinogenic product from HBV. The imbalance of increased anti-apoptosis and decreased pro-apoptosis seen in HCC is a critical mechanism leading to the uncontrolled growth of tumour cells. Therefore, this study suggests that a deficiency in the expression of Bid may contribute to the development of such an imbalance in HCC.

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