Topic Highlight
Copyright ©2010 Baishideng Publishing Group Co., Limited. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Dec 14, 2010; 16(46): 5801-5809
Published online Dec 14, 2010. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i46.5801
Leptin in hepatocellular carcinoma
Shen-Nien Wang, King Teh Lee, Chen-Guo Ker
Shen-Nien Wang, Chen-Guo Ker, King-Teh Lee, Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Department of Surgery, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, China
Shen-Nien Wang, Chen-Guo Ker, King-Teh Lee, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, China
Shen-Nien Wang, Cancer Center, Department of Surgery, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, China
Shen-Nien Wang, Department of Surgery, Kaohsiung Municipal Hsiao-Kang Hospital, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, China
Shen-Nien Wang, Graduate Institute of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, China
Author contributions: Wang SN and Lee KT contributed equally to this work in manuscript writing and processing; Ker CG revised this manuscript.
Supported by Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital Cancer Center through funding by the Department of Health, Taiwan, China and NSC Grant 95-2314-B-037-046 from the National Science Council, Taiwan, China
Correspondence to: Shen-Nien Wang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Department of Surgery, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, 100 Tzyou 1st Road, San-Ming District, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, China. snwang@kmu.edu.tw
Telephone: +886-7-3208171 Fax: +886-7-3216992
Received: May 27, 2010
Revised: July 9, 2010
Accepted: July 16, 2010
Published online: December 14, 2010
Abstract

The risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development have been established, and include chronic hepatitis B and C, heavy alcohol consumption, and aflatoxins. In fact, 5%-30% of patients with HCC still lack a readily identifiable risk factor. It has been reported that the majority of ‘‘cryptogenic’’ HCC may be attributed to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the hepatic presentation of the metabolic syndrome (MS). Obesity is associated with the development of the MS. Recently, adipose tissue has been considered as an endocrine organ because of its capacity to secrete a variety of cytokines, which are collectively known as the adipokines. Leptin, the product of the obese gene, is mainly produced by adipose tissue. Since leptin was first characterized in 1994, accumulated literature has demonstrated the involvement of this adipokine in several areas of human physiology. After binding to its receptor, leptin initiates a cascade of signaling events and subsequent cellular effects. In addition to being the regulatory mediator of energy homeostasis, several in vitro studies have demonstrated the fibrogenic role of leptin in the liver. Furthermore, the deregulated expression of leptin and its receptor have been demonstrated to be associated with a variety of metabolic disorders as well as human cancers. Most importantly, direct evidence supporting the inhibitory and/or activating role of leptin in the process of carcinogenesis and progression of human HCC has been accumulating rapidly. This review aims to provide important insights into the potential mechanisms of leptin in the development of HCC. Hopefully, further investigations will shed light on a new therapeutic target in HCC.

Keywords: Adipokine, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Leptin, Liver cirrhosis, Metabolic syndrome, Obesity, Steatohepatitis