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MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNA expressions as molecular biomarkers in patients with hepatitis C virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma
  1. H A El Aggan *1,
  2. S Mahmoud2,
  3. W El Delgawy2,
  4. N El Deeb3,
  5. R Shams El Din2
  1. 1Department of Medicine (Hepatobiliary Unit), Alexandria, Egypt
  2. 2Department of Medical Biochemistry, Alexandria, Egypt
  3. 3Department of Pathology, Alexandria, Egypt


Introduction The melanoma antigen (MAGE) family members are tumour-specific antigens exclusively expressed in neoplastic cells. Therefore, the present work was designed to study the expression of MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNAs in the peripheral blood and cancerous tissues of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods 30 patients with HCV-related cirrhosis (15 patients with HCC and 15 patients without HCC) and 15 healthy subjects were enrolled in the present study. Expression of MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNAs in peripheral blood samples, HCC specimens and surrounding non-neoplastic liver tissues, were studied by a reverse-transcription PCR (RT-PCR) with the specific primers after RNA extraction. The sensitivity and specificity of MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNAs as markers for diagnosis of HCC have been assessed by plotting a receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve.

Results In HCC patients, the positive rate of MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNA expression was 53.3% and 33.3% in peripheral blood samples respectively, while the positive rate was 53.3% and 40.0% in HCC tissue samples, respectively. By contrast, MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNA were not detected in the adjacent non-neoplastic liver tissues or in the peripheral blood samples of cirrhotic patients without HCC and healthy subjects. No relationship was found between MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNA expression and age, gender, Child-Pugh score, tumour size, clinical stage and histopathological grade (p>0.05). The sensitivity and specificity of MAGE-1 mRNA as a marker for the diagnosis of HCC was 53.3% and 100% respectively while MAGE-3 mRNA has a sensitivity of 40% and a specificity of 100%.

Conclusion MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNA are highly expressed in HCV-related HCCs and may play a role in hepatocarcinogenesis. These tumour-specific antigens can be used as molecular markers for early diagnosis of HCC and detection of disseminated tumour cells and may act as a potential target for immunotherapy in HCC patients.

  • hepatitis C virus
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • melanoma antigen genes.

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  • Competing interests None.

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