Liver Cancer
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2004. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Jan 1, 2004; 10(1): 42-45
Published online Jan 1, 2004. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v10.i1.42
Increased nociceptin/orphanin FQ plasma levels in hepatocellular carcinoma
Ferenc Szalay, Mónika B Hantos, Andrea Horvath, Peter L. Lakatos, Aniko Folhoffer, Kinga Dunkel, Dalma Hegedus, Kornélia Tekes
Ferenc Szalay, Andrea Horvath, Peter L. Lakatos, Aniko Folhoffer, Kinga Dunkel, Dalma Hegedus, 1st Department of Medicine of Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Kornélia Tekes, Department of Pharmacodynamics of Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Mónika B Hantos, Neurochemical Research Unit of Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
Author contributions: All authors contributed equally to the work.
Correspondence to: Professor Ferenc Szalay, MD., PhD, 1st Department of Medicine Semmelweis University, Koranyi S u. 2/A, Budapest, H-1083 Hungary.
Telephone: +36-1-210 1007 Fax: +36-1-210 1007
Received: October 8, 2003
Revised: October 30, 2003
Accepted: November 16, 2003
Published online: January 1, 2004

AIM: The heptadecapeptide nociceptin alias orphanin FQ is the endogenous agonist of opioid receptor-like1 receptor. It is involved in modulation of pain and cognition. High blood level was reported in patients with acute and chronic pain, and in Wilson disease. An accidental observation led us to investigate nociceptin in hepatocellular carcinoma

METHODS: Plasma nociceptin level was measured by radioimmunoassay, aprotinin was used as protease inhibitor. Hepatocellular carcinoma was diagnosed by laboratory, ultrasound, other imaging, and confirmed by fine needle biopsy. Results were compared to healthy controls and patients with other chronic liver diseases.

RESULTS: Although nociceptin levels were elevated in patients with Wilson disease (14.0 ± 2.7 pg/mL, n = 26), primary biliary cirrhosis (12.1 ± 3.2 pg/mL, n = 21) and liver cirrhosis (12.8 ± 4.0 pg/mL, n = 15) compared to the healthy controls (9.2 ± 1.8 pg/mL, n = 29, P < 0.001 for each), in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma a ten-fold increase was found (105.9 ± 14.4 pg/mL, n = 29, P < 0.0001). High plasma levels were found in each hepatocellular carcinoma patient including those with normal alpha fetoprotein and those with pain (104.9 ± 14.9 pg/mL, n = 12) and without (107.7 ± 14.5 pg/mL, n = 6).

CONCLUSION: A very high nociceptin plasma level seems to be an indicator for hepatocellular carcinoma. Further research is needed to clarify the mechanism and clinical significance of this novel finding.

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