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Med Oncol. 2014 Jun;31(6):970. doi: 10.1007/s12032-014-0970-z. Epub 2014 Apr 30.

Abnormal expression of EMT-related proteins, S100A4, vimentin and E-cadherin, is correlated with clinicopathological features and prognosis in HCC.

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Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Affiliated Tumor Hospital, Nantong University, Nantong, Jiangsu, China.


We determined the expression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) indicator proteins, E-cadherin (E-cad), vimentin (VIM), mucin 1 (MUC1) and S100 calcium-binding protein A4 (S100A4) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patient tissue samples. We also investigated the relationship between the expression of these proteins and clinicopathologic factors in HCC. Finally, we assessed the potential value of these markers as prognostic indicators of survival in HCC patients. The expression of E-cad, VIM, MUC1 and S100A4 EMT indicator proteins was assessed in tissue microarray HCC tissue sections and corresponding peritumoral normal tissues by immunohistochemistry. In addition, the expression for the four EMT indicator proteins was correlated with clinicopathological features of HCC and patient outcome. Comparison of clinicopathological characteristics and immunohistochemistry by χ(2) analysis revealed that downregulation of E-cad in HCC was significantly associated with later TNM cancer stage (P = 0.012), gross classification (P = 0.018), regional lymph node metastasis (P = 0.036) and liver cirrhosis (P = 0.028). Increased S100A4 expression in HCC was significantly associated with differentiation (P = 0.032), tumor with a complete fibrous capsule (P = 0.031) and portal vein invasion (P = 0.038). High VIM expression in HCC was significantly associated with high serum α-fetoprotein levels (P = 0.016). We also observed that low E-cad expression was significantly associated with overexpression of VIM (P = 0.001). Kaplan-Meier survival and Cox regression analysis revealed that low E-cad expression (HR = 0.164, 95 % CI 0.072 to 0.373, P < 0.001) and high serum α-fetoprotein levels (HR = 2.202, 95 % CI 1.054 to 4.598, P = 0.036) were independent prognostic factors in HCC. Our study demonstrates that high S100A4 and VIM expression and low E-cad expression correlate with an aggressive, malignant phenotype in HCC. These results also support a role for E-cad as a prognostic factor in HCC.

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