From the Journals

Possible biomarkers found for progression to liver cancer in chronic HCV infection



Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) and ficolin-2 appeared to be potential biomarkers for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, according to the results of a biochemical analysis of human blood samples performed by PhD student Paywast J. Jalal of the University of Sulaimani (Iraq) and colleagues.


Archived HCV-positive serum samples, including those from 31 patients who had developed HCC, were retrieved from the Trent HCV clinical cohort. They were compared with each other over time and against samples from HCV-infected individuals in the cohort who did not develop HCC. In addition, HCV-negative serum samples were obtained commercially and assessed identically. Circulating liver-expressed lectins, ficolin-2, ficolin-3, and MBL were all examined as potential biomarkers for the development of HCC, the authors wrote in Virology.

Binding of ficolin-3 to reference ligands was greater in chronic HCV infection, while ficolin-2 and MBL were significantly elevated in individuals who develop HCC, compared with HCV-infected individuals without HCC. Ficolin-2 and MBL were found to be elevated at 1 and 3 years prior to HCC diagnosis, respectively, suggesting they could be used as prognostic serum markers for the development of HCC.

“The strong evidence for an association between elevated MBL binding activity and the development of HCC is supportive for a larger prospective study of these biomarkers in HCV-induced liver cancer,” the researchers concluded.

This study was funded by a split-site PhD scholarship between the University of Sulaimani and the University of Nottingham (England). The authors reported they had no conflicts.

SOURCE: Jalal PJ et al. Virology. 2019;530:99-106.

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