Specific mutations of hepatitis B virus in plasma predict liver cancer development

Shuang Yuan Kuang, Peta E. Jackson, Jin Bing Wang, Pei Xing Lu, Alvaro Muñoz, Geng Sun Qian, Thomas W. Kensler, John D. Groopman

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Abstract

A major risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is hepatitis B virus (HBV), whose pathogenesis is exacerbated by the acquisition of mutations that accelerate carcinogenesis. We examined, with mass spectrometry, the temporality of an HBV 1762T/1764A double mutation in plasma and tumors. Initial studies found that 52 of 70 (74.3%) tumors from patients residing in Qidong, People's Republic of China, contained this HBV mutation. Paired plasma samples were available for six of the tumor specimens; four tumors had the HBV 1762T/1764A mutation, whereas three of the paired plasma samples were also positive. The potential predictive value of this biomarker was explored by using stored plasma samples from a study of 120 residents of Qidong who had been monitored for aflatoxin exposure and HBV infection. After 10 years of passive follow-up, there were six cases of major liver disease including HCC (four cases), hepatitis (one case), and cirrhosis (one case). All six cases had detectable levels of the HBV 1762 T/1764A mutation up to 8 years before diagnosis. Finally, 15 liver cancers were selected from a prospective cohort of 1,638 high-risk individuals in Qidong on the basis of available plasma samples spanning the years before and after diagnosis. The HBV 1762T/1764A mutation was detected in 8 of the 15 cases (53.3%) before cancer. The persistence of detection of this mutation was statistically significant (P = 0.022, two-tailed). We therefore found that a prediagnosis biomarker of specific HBV mutations can be measured in plasma and suggest this marker for use as an intermediate endpoint in prevention and intervention trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3575-3580
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume101
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 9 2004

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