Hepatitis B virus X protein reduces the stability of Nrdp1 to up-regulate ErbB3 in hepatocellular carcinoma cells
Most hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is generated from chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. To discover new markers for early HCC in patients with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, we initiated our search in the interstitial fluid of tumor (TIF) via differential gel electrophoresis and antibody arrays and identified secreted ERBB3 isoforms (sERBB3). The performance of serum sERBB3 in diagnosis of HCC was analyzed using receiver operating characteristic curves (ROC). The serum sERBB3 level was significantly higher in HCC than in cirrhosis (p < 0.001) and chronic hepatitis (p < 0.001). The accuracy of serum sERBB3 in detection of HCC was further validated in two independent sets of patients. In discrimination of early HCC from chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis, serum sERBB3 had a better performance than alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) (areas under ROC [AUC]: sERBB3 vs AFP = 93.1 vs 81.0% from chronic hepatitis and 70.9 vs 62.7% from cirrhosis). Combination of sERBB3 and AFP further improved the accuracy in detection of early HCC from chronic hepatitis (AUC = 97.1%) or cirrhosis (AUC = 77.5%). Higher serum sERBB3 levels were associated with portal-vein invasion and extrahepatic metastasis of HCC (p = 0.017). Therefore, sERBB3 are serum markers for early HCC in patients with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis.