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World J Hepatol. 2015 Feb 27;7(2):139-49. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v7.i2.139.

Current biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma: Surveillance, diagnosis and prediction of prognosis.

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Kerstin Schütte, Christian Schulz, Alexander Link, Peter Malfertheiner, Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases, Otto-von-Guericke-University of Magdeburg, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.


Biomarkers for surveillance, diagnosis and prediction of prognosis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are currently not ready for introduction into clinical practice because of limited sensitivity and specificity. Especially for the early detection of small HCC novel biomarkers are needed to improve the current effectiveness of screening performed by ultrasound. The use of high-throughput technologies in hepatocellular research allows to identify molecules involved in the complex pathways in hepatocarcinogenesis. Several invasive and non-invasive biomarkers have been identified already and have been evaluated in different clinical settings. Gene signatures with prognostic potential have been identified by gene expression profiling from tumor tissue. However, a single "all-in-one" biomarker that fits all-surveillance, diagnosis, prediction of prognosis-has not been found so far. The future of biomarkers most probably lies in a combination of non-invasive biomarkers, imaging and clinical parameters in a surveillance setting. Molecular profiling of tumorous and non-tumorous liver tissue may allow a prediction of prognosis for the individual patient and hopefully clear the way for individual treatment approaches. This article gives an overview on current developments in biomarker research in HCC with a focus on currently available and novel biomarkers, in particular on microRNA.


Biomarker; Diagnosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; MicroRNA; Prognosis

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