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J Transl Med. 2012 Jul 2;10:135. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-10-135.

High expression of high mobility group box 1 (hmgb1) predicts poor prognosis for hepatocellular carcinoma after curative hepatectomy.

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Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Cancer Centre of Sun Yat-Sen University, 651 Dongfeng Road East, Guangzhou, 510060, China.



High mobility group box 1(HMGB1) overexpression has been reported in a variety of human cancers. However, the role of HMGB1 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unclear. The aim of present study was to analyze HMGB1 protein expression in tumor, para-tumor and normal tissue and to assess its prognostic significance for HCC after curative hepatectomy.


The levels of HMGB1 mRNA and protein in tumor, para-tumor and normal tissue were evaluated in 11 HCC cases by Reverse Transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot. Additionally, HMGB1 protein expression in 161 HCC was analyzed by immunohistochemistry and correlated with clinicopathological characteristics and survivals. Student's t-test, spearman's rank correlation, Kaplan-Meier plots and Cox proportional hazards regression model were used to analyze the data.


By RT-PCR and Western blot, the levels of HMGB1 mRNA and protein were significantly higher in HCC, compared to that in para-tumor (p < 0.001) and normal tissue (p < 0.001). Immunohistochemical staining revealed that high expression of HMGB1 was detected in 42.9% (69/161) HCC cases. High expression of HMGB1 was significantly associated with incomplete encapsulation (p = 0.035) and advanced TNM stage (p = 0.036). Multivariate analysis showed that high expression of HMGB1 was an independent prognostic factor for both overall (p = 0.009, HR = 1.834, 95%CI: 1.167-2.881) and disease-free survival (p = 0.018, HR = 1.622, 95%CI: 1.088-2.419), along with tumor size. Subgroup analysis revealed that high expression of HMGB1 predicted poorer overall survival only for tumor >5 cm (p = 0.031), but not for tumor ≤5 cm (p = 0.101).


HMGB1 protein might contribute to the malignant progression of HCC, high expression of HMGB1 predicts poor prognosis for patients with HCC after curative hepatectomy, especially for patients with tumor >5 cm.

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