Gene signature predictive of hepatocellular carcinoma patient response to transarterial chemoembolization

Valerie Fako, Sean P. Martin, Yotsawat Pomyen, Anuradha Budhu, Jittiporn Chaisaingmongkol, Sophia Franck, Joyce Man Fong Lee, Irene Oi Lin Ng, Tan To Cheung, Xiyang Wei, Niya Liu, Junfang Ji, Lei Zhao, Zhaogang Liu, Hu Liang Jia, Zhao You Tang, Lun Xiu Qin, Roman Kloeckner, Jens Marquardt, Tim GretenXin Wei Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is a commonly used treatment modality in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The ability to identify patients who will respond to TACE represents an important clinical need, and tumor gene expression patterns may be associated with TACE response. We investigated whether tumor transcriptome is associated with TACE response in patients with HCC. We analyzed transcriptome data of treatment-naïve tumor tissues from a Chinese cohort of 191 HCC patients, including 105 patients who underwent TACE following resection with curative intent. We then developed a gene signature, TACE Navigator, which was associated with improved survival in patients that received either adjuvant or post-relapse TACE. To validate our findings, we applied our signature in a blinded manner to three independent cohorts comprising an additional 130 patients with diverse ethnic backgrounds enrolled in three different hospitals who received either adjuvant TACE or palliative TACE. TACE Navigator stratified patients into Responders and Non-Responders which was associated with improved survival following TACE in our test cohort (Responders: 67 months vs Non-Responders: 39.5 months, p<0.0001). In addition, multivariable Cox model demonstrates that TACE Navigator was independently associated with survival (HR: 9.31, 95% CI: 3.46-25.0, p<0.001). In our validation cohorts, the association between TACE Navigator and survival remained robust in both Asian patients who received adjuvant TACE (Hong Kong: 60 months vs 25.6 months p=0.007; Shandong: 61.3 months vs 32.1 months, p=0.027) and European patients who received TACE as primary therapy (Mainz: 60 months vs 41.5 months, p=0.041). These results indicate that a TACE-specific molecular classifier is robust in predicting TACE response. This gene signature can be used to identify patients who will have the greatest survival benefit after TACE treatment and enable personalized treatment modalities for patients with HCC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Sciences
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)2654-2663
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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