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Hepatol Res. 2018 Jan;48(1):5-14. doi: 10.1111/hepr.12991. Epub 2017 Nov 10.

Sorafenib response in hepatocellular carcinoma: MicroRNAs as tuning forks.

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Department of Experimental Medicine and Biotechnology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the primary liver malignancy that contributes towards the second most common cause of cancer-related mortality. The targeted chemotherapeutic agent, sorafenib, is known to show a statistically significant but limited overall survival advantage in advanced HCC. However, the individual patient response towards sorafenib varies drastically, with most experiencing stable disease and few with partial response; complete response is very rare. Progressive disease despite the treatment is also evident in many patients, indicating drug resistance. These varied responses have been linked with the modulation of several intracellular signaling pathways. Notably, the regulation of these pathways through diverse operating biomolecules, including microRNAs (miRNAs), is the focus of recent studies. MicroRNAs are tiny, non-coding RNA molecules that regulate the expression of several target genes. In addition, miRNAs are known to play a role in the progression of HCC carcinogenesis. Interestingly, miRNAs have also been identified to play differential roles in terms of sorafenib response in HCC such as biomarkers and functional modulation of cellular response to sorafenib, hence, they are also being therapeutically evaluated. This review outlines the role of reported miRNAs in different aspects of sorafenib response in HCC.


hepatocellular carcinoma; microRNAs; resistance; sorafenib


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