Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Oncol. 2004 Apr;24(4):797-805.

Acyclic retinoid in the chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma (review).

Author information

Molecular Cell Pathology Research Unit, RIKEN, Wako, Japan.


We here review therapeutic application of a synthetic analog of retinoids (vitamin A and its derivatives), named acyclic retinoid (AR), towards chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and its underlying molecular mechanisms. A high incidence of post-therapeutic recurrence has become a major determinant of the prognosis of HCC, especially in the patients of hepatitis virus-infected cirrhosis. Oral supplementation of AR successfully prevented the recurrence of HCC, associated with a disappearance in serum levels of lectin-reactive alpha-fetoprotein (AFP-L3), a marker of occult cancer clones in the liver, suggesting eradication of latent malignant clones from patients' liver. This led us a novel concept of 'clonal deletion' with AR as an agent that is conceptually similar to cancer chemotherapy. HCC in cirrhotic patients contains lower levels of endogenous retinoids and simultaneously is insensitive to retinoic acid (RA) because of malfunction of its nuclear receptor, retinoid X receptor alpha (RXRalpha). In HCC tissues, RXRalpha is constitutively phosphorylated by the action of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk), thereby losing its transactivation activity and becoming resistant to degradation via ubiquitin/proteasome pathway. This leads to accumulation of phospho-inactivated RXRalpha, that functions as a dominant negative receptor and interferes with transactivation by remaining normal RXRalpha. AR but not natural RA prevents phosphorylation of RXRalpha and restores the function of RXRalpha via down-regulating Ras/Erk system, making HCC cells sensitive to the endogenous ligand, 9-cis-RA. This may link to both caspase-dependent and -independent apoptosis of the cancer cells via induction of growth suppressor(s) such as p21CIP1 and/or apoptosis inducer(s) including tissue transglutaminase. AR also enhances the sensitivity of HCC cells to interferons-alpha and -beta, and thereby indirectly promotes apoptosis induced by these interferons. In summary, our clinical experience and basic research together provide a strong rationale to use AR in the chemoprevention of HCC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Spandidos Publications
Loading ...
Support Center