Patterns of cancer recurrence hold the key to prognosis after curative resection. This retrospective study aimed to identify a predictor and therapeutic candidate for aggressive recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


Primary HCC tissues from 107 patients who had curative resection were analysed. Genome-wide gene expression profiles were investigated using a microarray technique, and clustering analysis was carried out based on the first diagnosis of recurrence according to the Milan criteria. Immunohistochemical expression and array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH) were also assessed.


Microarray analysis revealed overexpression of Aurora kinase B, a chromosome passenger protein kinase, as the most significant predictor of the aggressive recurrence of HCC. Aurora kinase B protein expression was significantly associated with aggressive recurrence (P < 0·001) and prognosis (P < 0·001). Multivariable analysis identified Aurora kinase B as the only independent predictor of aggressive recurrence of HCC (P = 0·031). Array-CGH analysis showed that genomic instability was closely related to Aurora kinase B expression (P = 0·011).


Aurora kinase B is an effective predictor of aggressive HCC recurrence, in relation to the genomic instability. It might be worth considering as a molecular target for the adjuvant therapy of HCC. Copyright © 2008 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.