Published online Dec 27, 2012. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v4.i12.342
Revised: November 17, 2012
Accepted: November 24, 2012
Published online: December 27, 2012
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects more than 170 million people worldwide, and thereby becomes a series global health challenge. Chronic infection with HCV is considered one of the major causes of end-stage liver disease including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although the multiple functions of the HCV proteins and their impacts on the modulation of the intracellular signaling transduction processes, the drive of carcinogenesis during the infection with HCV, is thought to result from the interactions of viral proteins with host cell proteins. Thus, the induction of mutator phenotype, in liver, by the expression of HCV proteins provides a key mechanism for the development of HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC is considered one of the most common malignancies worldwide with increasing incidence during the past decades. In many countries, the trend of HCC is attributed to several liver diseases including HCV infection. However, the development of HCC is very complicated and results mainly from the imbalance between tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes, as well as from the alteration of cellular factors leading to a genomic instability. Besides the poor prognosis of HCC patients, this type of tumor is quite resistance to the available therapies. Thus, understanding the molecular mechanisms, which are implicated in the development of HCC during the course of HCV infection, may help to design a general therapeutic protocol for the treatment and/or the prevention of this malignancy. This review summarizes the current knowledge of the molecular mechanisms, which are involved in the development of HCV-associated HCC and the possible therapeutic strategies.