Send to

Choose Destination
PeerJ. 2019 Feb 6;7:e6375. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6375. eCollection 2019.

Identification of special key genes for alcohol-related hepatocellular carcinoma through bioinformatic analysis.

Author information

Henan Medical College, Zhengzhou, China.
Henan Province People's Hospital, Zhengzhou, China.
Institute of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China.



Alcohol-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was reported to be diagnosed at a later stage, but the mechanism was unknown. This study aimed to identify special key genes (SKGs) during alcohol-related HCC development and progression.


The mRNA data of 369 HCC patients and the clinical information were downloaded from the Cancer Genome Atlas project (TCGA). The 310 patients with certain HCC-related risk factors were included for analysis and divided into seven groups according to the risk factors. Survival analyses were applied for the HCC patients of different groups. The patients with hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus infection only were combined into the HCC-V group for further analysis. The differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the HCCs with alcohol consumption only (HCC-A) and HCC-V tumors were identified through limma package in R with cutoff criteria│log2 fold change (logFC)|>1.0 and p < 0.05. The DEGs between eight alcohol-related HCCs and their paired normal livers of GSE59259 from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) were identified through GEO2R (a built-in tool in GEO database) with cutoff criteria |logFC|> 2.0 and adj.p < 0.05. The intersection of the two sets of DEGs was considered SKGs which were then investigated for their specificity through comparisons between HCC-A and other four HCC groups. The SKGs were analyzed for their correlations with HCC-A stage and grade and their prognostic power for HCC-A patients. The expressional differences of the SKGs in the HCCs in whole were also investigated through Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis (GEPIA). The SKGs in HCC were validated through Oncomine database analysis.


Pathological stage is an independent prognostic factor for HCC patients. HCC-A patients were diagnosed later than HCC patients with other risk factors. Ten SKGs were identified and nine of them were confirmed for their differences in paired samples of HCC-A patients. Three (SLC22A10, CD5L, and UROC1) and four (SLC22A10, UROC1, CSAG3, and CSMD1) confirmed genes were correlated with HCC-A stage and grade, respectively. SPP2 had a lower trend in HCC-A tumors and was negatively correlated with HCC-A stage and grade. The SKGs each was differentially expressed between HCC-A and at least one of other HCC groups. CD5L was identified to be favorable prognostic factor for overall survival while CSMD1 unfavorable prognostic factor for disease-free survival for HCC-A patients and HCC patients in whole. Through Oncomine database, the dysregulations of the SKGs in HCC and their clinical significance were confirmed.


The poor prognosis of HCC-A patients might be due to their later diagnosis. The SKGs, especially the four stage-correlated genes (CD5L, SLC22A10, UROC1, and SPP2) might play important roles in HCC development, especially alcohol-related HCC development and progression. CD5L might be useful for overall survival and CSMD1 for disease-free survival predication in HCC, especially alcohol-related HCC.


Alcohol-related hepatocellular carcinoma; Bioinformatic analysis; CD5L; CSMD1; Prognosis

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PeerJ, Inc. Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center