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Microvascular invasion (MVI) is presently evaluated as a high-risk factor to be directly relative to postoperative prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Up to now, diagnosis of MVI mainly depends on the postoperative pathological analyses with H&E staining assay, based on numbers and distribution characteristics of MVI to classify the risk levels of MVI. However, such pathological analyses lack the specificity to discriminate MVI in HCC specimens, especially in complicated pathological tissues. In addition, the efficiency to precisely define stages of MVI is not satisfied. Thus, any biomarker for both conforming diagnosis of MVI and staging its levels will efficiently and effectively promote the prediction of early postoperative recurrence and metastasis for HCC. Through bioinformatics analysis and clinical sample verification, we discovered that Stathmin 1 (STMN1) gene was significantly up-regulated at the locations of MVI. Combining STMN1 immunostaining with classic H&E staining assays, we established a new protocol for MVI pathological diagnosis. Next, we found that the degrees of MVI risk could be graded according to expression levels of STMN1 for prognosis prediction on recurrence rates and overall survival in early HCC patients. STMN1 affected epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) of HCC cells by regulating the dynamic balance of microtubules through signaling of "STMN1-Microtubule-EMT" axis. Inhibition of STMN1 expression in HCC cells reduced their lung metastatic ability in recipients of mouse model, suggesting that STMN1 also could be a potential therapeutic target for inhibiting HCC metastasis. Therefore, we conclude that STMN1 has potentials for clinical applications as a biomarker for both pathological diagnosis and prognostic prediction, as well as a therapeutic target for HCC. © 2022. The Author(s).

Citation

Yongchao Cai, Yong Fu, Changcheng Liu, Xicheng Wang, Pu You, Xiuhua Li, Yanxiang Song, Xiaolan Mu, Ting Fang, Yang Yang, Yuying Gu, Haibin Zhang, Zhiying He. Stathmin 1 is a biomarker for diagnosis of microvascular invasion to predict prognosis of early hepatocellular carcinoma. Cell death & disease. 2022 Feb 24;13(2):176

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PMID: 35210426

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