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This article is the authors’ final published version in Scientific Reports, Volume 11, Issue 1, June 2021, Article number 12097.

The published version is available at Copyright © Pomyen et al.


Treatment effectiveness in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) depends on early detection and precision-medicine-based patient stratification for targeted therapies. However, the lack of robust biomarkers, particularly a non-invasive diagnostic tool, precludes significant improvement of clinical outcomes for HCC patients. Serum metabolites are one of the best non-invasive means for determining patient prognosis, as they are stable end-products of biochemical processes in human body. In this study, we aimed to identify prognostic serum metabolites in HCC. To determine serum metabolites that were relevant and representative of the tissue status, we performed a two-step correlation analysis to first determine associations between metabolic genes and tissue metabolites, and second, between tissue metabolites and serum metabolites among 49 HCC patients, which were then validated in 408 additional Asian HCC patients with mixed etiologies. We found that certain metabolic genes, tissue metabolites and serum metabolites can independently stratify HCC patients into prognostic subgroups, which are consistent across these different data types and our previous findings. The metabolic subtypes are associated with β-oxidation process in fatty acid metabolism, where patients with worse survival outcome have dysregulated fatty acid metabolism. These serum metabolites may be used as non-invasive biomarkers to define prognostic tumor molecular subtypes for HCC.

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

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