Background: The present study correlated the expression of hepcidin mRNA and the levels of serum iron, ferritin, and TIBC in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods: Samples of cancerous and noncancerous liver tissue were taken from patients with HCC who underwent hepatectomy. Expression of hepcidin mRNA was evaluated by realtime PCR, and compared in tumors differing in their degree of differentiation and number of tumors. Correlations between hepcidin expression and the serum concentration of hepcidin were evaluated, together with the expression of the serum concentration of biochemical markers of iron metabolism.

Results: Hepcidin mRNA expression in non-cancerous and cancerous tissues was 1791.6 (34.3- 25187.4) and 58.7 (1.93235.8), respectively (P < 0.0001). There were no significant differences in hepcidin expression among tumors differing in their degree of differentiation and number of tumors. The serum concentration of hepcidin did not correlate with hepcidin-mRNA expression. The serum iron level was found to be normal (125.4 ± 21.4 mg/dL). The serum ferritin level was also found to be normal 193.5(14.0-232.9 ng/mL). TIBC was (284.8 ±28.3 ng/mL). There were significant correlations between the serum levels of hepcidin and iron, hepcidin-25 and ferritin and hepcidin and TIBC.

Conclusion: The serum hepcidin concentration was correlated with the levels of serum iron and ferritin, but not with the level of hepcidin mRNA expression in either cancerous or non- cancerous liver tissue. Hepcidin is produced in patients with HCC, from non-cancerous liver tissue, even though production is inhibited in cancerous tissue. Expression of hepcidin mRNA is constitutively suppressed in cancerous, but not in non-cancerous liver tissue of patients with HCC.

Citation Information: Clin Cancer Res 2010;16(14 Suppl):B8.