Higher levels of cells originating in bone marrow may be useful in prognosis of liver cancer

culture blood cells and count the number of colonies (colony formation units or CFU) formed by endothelial cells. This enabled them to differentiate EPCs that originated in the bone marrow from endothelial cells that are found in normal tissues throughout the body. They also analyzed levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-8 (IL8), two proteins that are thought to be involved in new blood vessel formation in tumors.

The results showed that the HCC patients had significantly higher CFU scores than the control patients, and that those with inoperable HCC had significantly higher CFU scores than those whose tumors could be treated surgically. "These findings could suggest a possible relationship between more aggressive tumor and higher circulating levels of EPCs," the authors state.

In addition, in the 17 patients who had surgery and were followed for at least one year, CFU scores prior to surgery were much higher in those who experienced recurrence within a year. Researchers also analyzed levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a specific biomarker of HCC, and found that patients with higher CFU scores had higher levels of AFP. Similarly, there was a correlation between both VEGF and IL8 levels and CFU scores. The authors note that "since both circulating levels of IL8 and VEGF have been reported to be highly associated with angiogenesis [new blood vessel formation] and prognosis of HCC, the finding in our study provides additional evidence for the possible role of EPCs in tumor angiogenesis."

"Taken together, our study suggests that EPCs may have a significant implication in HCC in terms of prognosis," the authors note. They suggest that further studies with more patients and longer follow-up times would be useful, as would further evaluations of known prognostic factors together with CFU and AFP levels. It would also be helpful to follow CFU scores over time in patients who undergo surgery for HCC to determine if

Contact: David Greenberg
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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