Copyright ©The Author(s) 2015. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Hepatol. Feb 27, 2015; 7(2): 139-149
Published online Feb 27, 2015. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v7.i2.139
Current biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma: Surveillance, diagnosis and prediction of prognosis
Kerstin Schütte, Christian Schulz, Alexander Link, Peter Malfertheiner
Kerstin Schütte, Christian Schulz, Alexander Link, Peter Malfertheiner, Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases, Otto-von-Guericke-University of Magdeburg, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
Author contributions: Schütte K, Schulz C, Link A and Malfertheiner P designed the paper, performed the literature research, analyzed the data and wrote the paper; all authors approved the final version of the manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Kerstin Schütte, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases, Otto-von-Guericke-University of Magdeburg, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.
Telephone: +49-391-6713100 Fax: +49-391-6713105
Received: September 20, 2014
Peer-review started: September 20, 2014
First decision: November 1, 2014
Revised: November 21, 2014
Accepted: December 3, 2014
Article in press: December 10, 2014
Published online: February 27, 2015

Biomarkers for surveillance, diagnosis and prediction of prognosis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are currently not ready for introduction into clinical practice because of limited sensitivity and specificity. Especially for the early detection of small HCC novel biomarkers are needed to improve the current effectiveness of screening performed by ultrasound. The use of high-throughput technologies in hepatocellular research allows to identify molecules involved in the complex pathways in hepatocarcinogenesis. Several invasive and non-invasive biomarkers have been identified already and have been evaluated in different clinical settings. Gene signatures with prognostic potential have been identified by gene expression profiling from tumor tissue. However, a single “all-in-one” biomarker that fits all-surveillance, diagnosis, prediction of prognosis-has not been found so far. The future of biomarkers most probably lies in a combination of non-invasive biomarkers, imaging and clinical parameters in a surveillance setting. Molecular profiling of tumorous and non-tumorous liver tissue may allow a prediction of prognosis for the individual patient and hopefully clear the way for individual treatment approaches. This article gives an overview on current developments in biomarker research in HCC with a focus on currently available and novel biomarkers, in particular on microRNA.

Keywords: Hepatocellular carcinoma, Biomarker, Diagnosis, Prognosis, MicroRNA

Core tip: The aim of this review is to provide an overview on current invasive and non-invasive biomarkers in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with respect to their use in surveillance, diagnosis and prediction of prognosis. We also give an outlook on the future development of HCC biomarker research with a focus on microRNA.