Article : Impact of non-neoplastic vs intratumoural hepatitis B viral DNA and replication on hepatocellular carcinoma recurrenceĀ 

Wang Q, Lin L, Yoo S, Wang W, Blank S, Fiel M, Kadri H, Luan W, Warren L, Zhu J, Hiotis S

BACKGROUND This study aims to determine the impact of intracellular hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA, covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) and viral replicative activity in both tumour and non-neoplastic liver on prognosis and to determine the relationship of viral replicative activity and Ishak fibrosis in predicting outcome following resection.

METHODS A total of 99 prospectively enrolled patients treated with primary liver resection for HBV-HCC are included. Intracellular HBV DNA and cccDNA were quantitated by real-time PCR. The RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) was performed in a subset of 21 patients who had either minimal liver fibrosis (Ishak stages 0-2) or end-stage fibrosis (Ishak stage 6).

RESULTS Tumour tissue contained a lower cccDNA copy number compared with paired non-neoplastic liver, and larger tumours (>3 cm) had less cccDNA compared with small tumours (ā©½3 cm). High viral replicative activity in non-neoplastic liver was associated with higher HCC recurrence rate independent of Ishak fibrosis stage. Genes correlated with viral replicative activity in non-neoplastic liver (620 genes) were distinct from those associated with end-stage fibrosis (1226 genes). Genes associated with viral replicative activity were preferentially distributed in regions on chr3, chr16 and chr19.

CONCLUSIONS Viral replicative activity in non-neoplastic liver is associated with HCC recurrence through mechanisms that are distinct from and independent of Ishak fibrosis stage.