At advanced stages of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib is the only effective treatment. Surrogate markers that predict the biological and clinical efficacy of sorafenib may help tailor treatment on an individual patient basis. In the present study, the clinical significance of the expression of HOXB9, a transcriptional factor, in HCC was assessed. Increased HOXB9 expression in HCC was found to be positively correlated with the expression of angiogenic factors, increased vascular invasion and was found to be associated with poor overall patient survival. Sorafenib treatment effectively suppressed the expression of angiogenic factors and activation of the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway in HOXB9-expressing HCC cell lines. Consistent with these findings, HCC patients, whose cancer expressed high levels of HOXB9, exhibited increased overall survival upon sorafenib treatment. Collectively, these results suggest that HOXB9 expression in HCC could be a surrogate marker for a beneficial response to sorafenib treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research