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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Journal of Translational Medicine.

Volume 18, Issue 1, 6 July 2020, Article number 272.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1186/s12967-020-02432-7

Copyright © 2020 The Author(s).

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients, microvascular invasion (MVI) is associated with worse outcomes regardless of treatment. No single reliable preoperative factor exists to predict MVI. The aim of the work described here was to develop a new MVI- based mRNA biomarker to differentiate between high and low risk patients.

METHODS: Using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database, we collected data from 315 HCC patients, including mRNA expression and complete clinical data. We generated a seven-mRNA signature to predict patient outcomes. The mRNA signature was validated using the GSE36376 cohort. Finally, we tested the formula in our own 53 HCC patients using qPCR for the seven mRNAs and analyzing the computed tomography (CT) features.

RESULTS: This seven-mRNA signature significantly correlated with length of recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) for both the training and validation groups. RFS and OS were briefer in high risk versus low risk patients. A Kaplan-Meier analysis also indicated that survival time was significantly shortened in the high risk group versus the low risk group. Time-dependent receiver operating characteristic analysis demonstrated good predictive performance for the seven-mRNA signature. The mRNA signature also acts as an independent factor according to a Multivariate analysis. Our results are consistent with the seven-mRNA formula risk score.

CONCLUSION: Our research showed a novel seven-mRNA biomarker based on MVI predicting RFS and OS in HCC patients. This mRNA signature can stratify patients into subgroups based on their risk of recurrence to help guide individualized treatment and precision management in HCC.

Creative Commons License

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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