Field Of Vision
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World J Gastroenterol. Aug 14, 2012; 18(30): 3941-3944
Published online Aug 14, 2012. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i30.3941
Challenges of incorporating gene expression data to predict HCC prognosis in the age of systems biology
Yan Du, Guang-Wen Cao
Yan Du, Guang-Wen Cao, Department of Epidemiology, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433, China
Author contributions: Du Y collected the materials and drafted the manuscript; and Cao GW supervised and revised the manuscript.
Supported by The National Outstanding Youth Fund, No. 81025015; Key Project Fund, No. 91129301; and Creative Research Group Fund of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 30921006
Correspondence to: Guang-Wen Cao, Chairman, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology, Second Military Medical University, 800 Xiangyin Rd., Shanghai 200433, China.
Telephone: +86-21-81871060 Fax: +86-21-81871060
Received: June 11, 2012
Revised: June 26, 2012
Accepted: June 28, 2012
Published online: August 14, 2012

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The recurrence of HCC after curative treatments is currently a major hurdle. Identification of subsets of patients with distinct prognosis provides an opportunity to tailor therapeutic approaches as well as to select the patients with specific sub-phenotypes for targeted therapy. Thus, the development of gene expression profiles to improve the prediction of HCC prognosis is important for HCC management. Although several gene signatures have been evaluated for the prediction of HCC prognosis, there is no consensus on the predictive power of these signatures. Using systematic approaches to evaluate these signatures and combine them with clinicopathologic information may provide more accurate prediction of HCC prognosis. Recently, Villanueva et al[13] developed a composite prognostic model incorporating gene expression patterns in both tumor and adjacent tissues to predict HCC recurrence. In this commentary, we summarize the current progress in using gene signatures to predict HCC prognosis, and discuss the importance, existing issues and future research directions in this field.

Keywords: Gene expression signatures, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Prognosis