Expression of cancer stem cell biomarkers as a tool for a correct therapeutic approach to hepatocellular carcinoma

Maurizio Romano1,*, Francesco De Francesco2,*, Giuseppe Pirozzi3, Enrico Gringeri1, Riccardo Boetto1, Marina Di Domenico4, Barbara Zavan5, Giuseppe A. Ferraro2, and Umberto Cillo1

1 Department of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology, Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation, Padua University Hospital, Padua (Italy)

2 Multidisciplinary department of Medical-Surgical and Dental Specialties, Second University of Naples, Naples (Italy)

3 Department of Experimental Oncology, National Cancer Institute, G.Pascale, Naples (Italy)

4 Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and General Pathology, Second University of Naples, Naples (Italy)

5 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padua, Padua (Italy)

* These authors contribute equally to the work


Marina Di Domenico, email:

Keywords: biomarkers, hepatocellular carcinoma, early diagnosis, clinic-pathological, prognosis

Received: February 24, 2015 Accepted: May 6, 2015 Published: May 15, 2015


Liver cancer is the fifth most commonly diagnosed malignancy and the second most frequent cause of cancer death in men worldwide. Amongst liver cancers, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents the major histological subtype and it is one of the most common malignant human tumors worldwide. Research into the molecular biology of hepatocarcinogenesis has identified several biomarkers, which could provide additional informations in order to better understand the biology of HCC. A large number of biomarkers have been shown to have potential predictive significance and a wide variety of molecular markers have been proven to be excellent diagnostic tools for HCC but it is difficult to characterize HCC with a single biomarker. Thus, signatures of a combination of biomarkers may be more valuable for the diagnosis, staging and prognosis of HCC. Specifically, a correlation of HCC-CSCs phenotype to specific hepatic cancer subtypes and to specific clinical and pathological features has not yet been reported in human liver tumors. In this view we will first discuss the possible sources of liver stem cells and their relation with liver cancer development and we will secondly focus on the prognostic significance of clinical and pathological features of HCC.

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