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Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Apr 15;19(8):2014-24. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-0349. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

The prognostic significance and therapeutic potential of hedgehog signaling in intrahepatic cholangiocellular carcinoma.

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International Cooperation Laboratory on Signal Transduction, Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Institute, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, P.R. China.



The correlation of the hedgehog signaling pathway with the progression, prognosis, and therapeutics of intrahepatic cholangiocellular carcinoma (ICC) has not been well documented. The study aimed to investigate the expression, prognostic significance, and therapeutic value of hedgehog components in ICC.


Two independent cohorts of 200 patients with ICC were enrolled. By real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry assay, hedgehog components expression was evaluated. The prognostic values of hedgehog proteins were identified and verified. Cyclopamine or siRNA-targeting Gli was used to block the hedgehog signaling. Cell proliferation and apoptosis were observed by CCK8, cell cycle, and annexin V staining assays. In vivo murine tumor model was used to evaluate the role of hedgehog in ICC.


In ICC tissues, the Gli1 nuclear immune-intensity was associated with intrahepatic metastasis and the expression of Gli2 was associated with intrahepatic metastasis, venous invasion, and Unio Internationale Contra Cancrum (UICC) pT characteristics. In survival analysis, high Gli1 or Gli2 expressers had an unfavorable overall survival (OS) prognosis and a shorter disease-free survival (DFS) than those with low expression. In multivariate analysis, Gli1 expression was found to be an independent prognostic factor of OS, which was validated by another independent cohort. Furthermore, blocking the hedgehog signaling by cyclopamine or siRNA-targeting Gli1 resulted in apoptosis and growth inhibition in ICC cells.


This study shows, for the first time, activation of hedgehog pathway associated with the progression and metastasis in ICC, which may provide prognostic and therapeutic values for this tumor.

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