High-mobility group protein box1 expression correlates with peritumoral macrophage infiltration and unfavorable prognosis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhosis

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Abstract

Background: High-mobility group protein box1 (HMGB1) is a pivotal factor in the development and progression of many types of tumor. Its role in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and especially its correlation with intratumoral and peritumoral macrophage infiltration, remains obscure. We analyzed the potential roles and prognostic value of HMGB1 and explored the correlation between HMGB1 and macrophage infiltration in HCC using clinical samples. Methods: We reviewed clinicopathological and follow-up data on a cohort of 149 patients with HCC complicated with Hepatitis B-related cirrhosis. We measured the expression of HMGB1 and CD68 in tumoral and peritumoral liver tissues after curative resection and assessed the impacts of the tumor-associated macrophage (TAM) count and HMGB1 expression on clinicopathologic characteristics, overall survival (OS), and recurrence-free survival (RFS). Results: Ninety-four of the patients had elevated tumoral HMGB1 expression and 59 of the patients had elevated peritumoral HMGB1 expression, compared to only 4 patients with elevated peritumoral HMGB1 expression in 36 pateints with Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-negative HCC without liver cirrhosis (p < 0.001). The peritumoral HMGB1 expression levels were correlated with tumor invasiveness, BCLC stage, and recurrence. The degree of TAM infiltration was higher in peritumoral tissues with high HMGB1 expression than in peritumoral tissues with low HMGB1 expression (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in TAM infiltration between tumoral tissues with high and low HMGB1 expression. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that intratumoral HMGB1 overexpression was associated with poor OS, but not with RFS. High peritumoral HMGB1expression and TAM count, which correlated positively with tumor size and BCLC stage, were independent prognostic factors for OS (p < 0.001 and p = 0.017, respectively) and RFS (p = 0.002 and p = 0.024, respectively). Multivariate analyses indicated peritumoral HMGB1 expression (p = 0.014) and TAM count (p = 0.037), as well as tumor differentiation (p = 0.026), to be independent significant prognostic factors for RFS. Conclusions: High HMGB1 expression in peritumoral liver tissues correlated with peritumoral macrophage infiltration and had prognostic value in HCC, suggesting that peritumoral HMGB1 might show promise as a new biomarker to predict HCC progression.

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Zhang, Q. B., Jia, Q. an, Wang, H., Hu, C. X., Sun, D., Jiang, R. D., & Zhang, Z. L. (2016). High-mobility group protein box1 expression correlates with peritumoral macrophage infiltration and unfavorable prognosis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhosis. BMC Cancer, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-016-2883-z

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