Tumoural Expression of Connective Tissue Growth Factor (CTGF) Impacts on Survival in Patients Diagnosed with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)

Angela Lamarca, Marta Mendiola, Elsa Bernal, Victoria Heredia, Esther Díaz, María Miguel, Laura G Pastrian, Emilio Burgos, Jaime Feliu, Jorge Barriuso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tends to develop in the liver when there is a high level of background inflammation (cirrhosis). Treatment options are limited and mainly based on systemic therapies such as anti-angiogenic drugs (e.g. sorafenib). Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a matricellular protein involved in inflammation, tumour growth and angiogenesis. The aim of this study is to determine the expression of CTGF and hypoxia inducible factors (HIF) in HCC and to clarify its impact on relapse and survival.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Eligibility criteria for the study consisted of patients with a diagnosis of HCC, formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) biopsy tissue, as well as relapse and available survival data. A tissue microarray was constructed from ≥ 70% tumoural sections. The expressions of CTGF, HIF1α and HIF2α were analysed by immunohistochemistry. The relationship between expression of CTGF/HIF1α and CTGF/HIF2α were analysed. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed.

RESULTS: Fifty-three patients were screened; 39 patients were eligible for this study. Patients were treated with radical intent. At the end of follow up, 59% patients relapsed (28.2% locally, 10.3% multicentric liver relapse and 7.7% distant metastases). Estimated median disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) were 23.4 (95%CI 7.18-39.66) and 38.6 months (95%CI 30.7-46.6), respectively. Expression of CTGF was: negative 23.1%, focal 48.7% and diffuse 23.1%. A non-statistically significant relationship between expression of CTGF and HIF was shown supporting an alternative pathway for CTGF expression in HCC. In multivariate analysis CTGF expression was an independent factor related to OS, with shorter survival in those patients with focal/diffuse CTGF expression (HR 2.46; 95%CI 1.18-5.15).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results support that expression of CTGF is an independent factor associated with shorter OS in HCC. Further analysis of CTGF expression in a larger series of HCC patients is required to confirm CTGF as a prognostic biomarker in HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-44
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Cancer Drug Targets
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor/biosynthesis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular/diagnosis
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor/biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate/trends

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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