• FGF-2;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • NK cells;
  • MICA;
  • HLA class I


The roles of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) in the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development are still controversial. In this study, we investigated the expression of FGF-2 in chronic hepatitis (CH) type C patients with or without HCC and the immunoregulation of FGF-2 in NK sensitivity of HCC cells. The FGF-2 expressions were detected in the liver tissues of patients, but not in normal liver. The serum FGF-2 levels of the patients with CH, liver cirrhosis (LC) or HCC were significantly higher than those of healthy volunteers. The serum FGF-2 levels of patients decreased with the progression of chronic liver disease. HCC occurrence of LC patients with high levels of serum FGF-2 was significantly lower than that with low levels of serum FGF-2. Proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β and IL-6, induced FGF-2 expressions in HCC cells and normal hepatocytes. FGF-2 stimulation resulted in increasing the expression of the membrane-bound major histocompatibility complex class I-related chain A (MICA), an NK activating molecule, and decreasing that of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I, an NK inhibitory molecule, on HCC cells. This did not occur with normal hepatocytes. Adding anti-FGF receptor-2 neutralizing antibody resulted in inhibiting the change of MICA and HLA class I expressions on FGF-2 stimulated HCC cells. FGF-2 stimulation on HCC cells resulted in increasing NK sensitivity against HCC cells. These findings indicate that FGF-2 produced by HCC cells or normal hepatocytes of chronic liver disease may play critical roles in eliminating HCC cells by innate immunity.