Expression of stemness markers (CD133 and EpCAM) in prognostication of hepatocellular carcinoma

Authors

  • Anthony W H Chan,

    1. Department of Anatomical and Cellular Pathology, State Key Laboratory in Oncology in South China, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Joanna H M Tong,

    1. Department of Anatomical and Cellular Pathology, State Key Laboratory in Oncology in South China, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    2. Institute of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    3. Sir Y K Pao Cancer Centre, Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Stephen L Chan,

    1. Department of Clinical Oncology, State Key Laboratory in Oncology in South China, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Paul B S Lai,

    1. Division of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, Department of Surgery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Ka-Fai To

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anatomical and Cellular Pathology, State Key Laboratory in Oncology in South China, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    2. Institute of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    3. Sir Y K Pao Cancer Centre, Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    • Address for correspondence: Dr K F To, Department of Anatomical and Cellular Pathology, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ngan Shing Street, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong. e-mail: kfto@cuhk.edu.hk

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Abstract

Aims

The expression of stemness markers in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is suggested to be associated with poor clinical outcome after surgical resection. There are few data on their independent prognostic role in addition to the existing AJCC TNM staging system.

Methods and results

The immunohistochemical expression of CD133, EpCAM, CK19 and CD56 was studied in a cohort of 282 surgical specimens collected from patients undergoing resection of primary HCC. CD133-positive HCCs were usually smaller in size (= 0.002) and arose more frequently in cirrhotic liver (= 0.002). CD133 expression was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival (hazard ratio 2.30, < 0.001), and a highly potent prognostic factor in patients with stage I disease (hazard ratio 3.91, = 0.001). EpCAM expression was associated with younger age (< 0.001), smaller tumour size (= 0.018) and poorer histological differentiation (= 0.042). EpCAM immunoreactivity was an independent factor for disease-free survival in HCCs at all stages (hazard ratio 2.05, = 0.001), stage II (hazard ratio 3.66, = 0.010) and stages III/IV (hazard ratio 3.22, = 0.001). Neither CK19 nor CD56 offered any independent prognostic value.

Conclusion

The prognostic role of CD133 was most significant in TNM stage I disease, while the prognostic role of EpCAM was more apparent in more advanced TNM stages.

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