Patients and Methods: PC3X was measured by ELISA in plasma from patients with HCC (n=79), cirrhosis (n=86), non-cirrhotic hepatitis-B infection (n=74) and from healthy controls (n=44). PC3X was compared to the liver fibrosis marker PRO-C3 and the HCC tumor-cell derived marker alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). Diagnostic and prognostic potential was evaluated by AUROC and by calculating hazard ratios (HR) for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).
Results: PC3X, PRO-C3 and AFP were significantly elevated in patients with HCC compared to other liver diseases and healthy controls (p=0.0002, p< 0.0001). In patients with normal AFP (< 20 IU/mL), PC3X and PRO-C3 separated HCC from cirrhosis with an AUROC of 0.72 and 0.68, respectively. High PC3X and AFP predicted for poor PFS (HRPC3X=1.80, p=0.032; HRAFP=1.70, p=0.031) and OS (HRPC3X=2.12, p=0.024; HRAFP=2.55; p=0.003), whereas PRO-C3 did not (PFS: HR=1.19, p=0.059 and OS: HR=1.12, p=0.324). PC3X was independent of AFP (PFS: HR=1.74, p=0.045 and OS: HR=2.21, p=0.018) and combining the two improved prognostic value (PFS: HR=2.66, p=0.004 and OS: HR=5.86, p< 0.0001).
Conclusion: PC3X is associated with HCC independent of AFP and provides diagnostic and prognostic value for HCC patients. If validated, this suggests that PC3X has biomarker potential for HCC.
- Tumor microenvironment
- Extracellular matrix
- Liver cancer