Background: Mutations in the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene promoter have been reported in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); however, analyses of these mutations in liquid biopsies have been technically difficult because of the high GC content of the regions of interest within this promoter. We evaluated the feasibility and prognostic value of hTERT promoter mutations identified in circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from the serum of patients with HCC. Objective: A cohort of HCC patients (n = 36) who were curatively treated by surgical resection between June 2003 and September 2014 were enrolled in this study. Methods: The presence of hTERT promoter mutations in cfDNA from the patients' serum was analyzed via modified droplet digital polymerase chain reaction, and associations were sought between specific promoter mutations and patients' disease-free survival (DFS). Results: The G>A hTERT mutation at-124 bp was detected in the serum of 25 patients (69%). Although no marked differences were observed between the characteristics of the serum mutation-positive and serum mutation-negative patient groups, the DFS of patients with the mutation was significantly shorter than that of the serum mutation-negative patients (p = 0.02). Among 18 clinicopathologic and background liver factors examined, the presence of the-124 bp G>A mutation was an independent and significant predictor of patients' DFS (hazard ratio = 3.01, 95% confidence interval 1.11-10.5, p = 0.03) in multivariate analyses. Conclusions: The-124 bp G>A hTERT promoter mutation was observed in the serum of 69% of HCC patients who underwent surgical resection and was an independent predictor of disease progression in HCC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research