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Determining Consistent Prognostic Biomarkers Of Overall Survival And Vascular Invasion In Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Otília Menyhárt, Ádám Nagy, Balázs Győrffy

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Background: Potential prognostic biomarker candidates for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are abundant, but their generalizability is unexplored. We cross-validated markers of overall survival (OS) and vascular invasion in independent datasets. Methods: The literature search yielded 318 genes related to survival and 52 related to vascular invasion. Validation was performed in three datasets (RNA-seq, n = 371; Affymetrix arrays, n = 91; Illumina gene chips, n = 135) by uni- and multivariate Cox regression and Mann–Whitney U -test, separately for Asian and Caucasian patients. Results: One hundred and eighty biomarkers remained significant in Asian and 128 in Caucasian subjects at p < 0.05. After multiple testing correction BIRC5 ( p = 1.9 × 10 −10 ), CDC20 ( p = 2.5 × 10 −9 ) and PLK1 ( p = 3 × 10 −9 ) endured as best performing genes in Asian patients; however, none remained significant in the Caucasian cohort. In a multivariate analysis, significance was reached by stage ( p = 0.0018) and expression of CENPH ( p = 0.0038) and CDK4 ( p = 0.038). KIF18A was the only gene predicting vascular invasion in the Affymetrix and Illumina cohorts ( p = 0.003 and p = 0.025, respectively). Conclusion: Overall, about half of biomarker candidates failed to retain prognostic value and none were better than stage predicting OS. Impact: Our results help to eliminate biomarkers with limited capability to predict OS and/or vascular invasion.