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Transl Oncol. 2009 Aug 18;2(3):157-63.

Altered microRNA Expression Patterns in Hepatoblastoma Patients.

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National Centre for Rare Diseases, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


Liver cancers in children are rare representing only 1.1% of malignancies, with an annual incidence rate of 1.5 cases per million. Hepatoblastoma and hepatocellular carcinomas are the most common malignancies of the liver occurring in young people aged 15 years or younger. Molecular basis of both tumors are still unclear, and common markers (i.e., CTNNB1, APC, IGF-2) are not always useful in the characterization of sporadic forms; in this respect, microRNA recently associated with carcinogenesis could play a pivotal role in their onset. CTNNB1 and APC were analyzed by sequencing, and IGF-2 promoter methylation status was assessed by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction. MicroRNA expression was assayed by microarray and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in hepatoblastoma samples. Although few genomic alterations were detected in ours samples, an altered expression of somemicroRNA in hepatoblastoma was observed. Unsupervised clustering shows that microRNA profile can distinguish tumor from nontumor tissues. Further analyses of microRNA contents in hepatoblastoma compared with hepatocellular carcinoma highlighted four upregulated microRNA (miR-214, miR-199a, miR-150 [P < .01], and miR-125a [P < .05]) and one downregulated microRNA (miR-148a [P < .01]). In conclusion, although our samples were poorly informative from a genetic point of view, they showed a peculiar microRNA expression pattern compared with nontumor tissues and hepatocellular carcinoma. MicroRNA could represent valid markers for the classification of pediatric liver tumors.


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