Due to unsatisfying prognosis of AFP for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), researchers from the Chengdu Military General Hospital set out to evaluate the prognostic value of combination of exosomes and miRNAs in detecting HCC.
HCC was induced with diethylnitrosamine in rats and using a scoring system based on histological examination six different stages (normal liver, degeneration, fibrosis, cirrhosis, early HCC and late HCC) were identified in the development of HCC.
A change in the expression of both exosomes and miRNAs was observed during cirrhosis, which in contrast with AFP starts showing up until the early HCC stage. Interestingly, the expressions of exosomes and the selected four miRNAs at early HCC stage obtained more remarkably alterations than the level of AFP. On correlation analysis, four selected miRNAs had a significant closer relationship with exosomes when compared with AFP. The different combinations of AFP, exosomes, serous miRNAs and exosomal miRNAs had stronger power in predicting HCC than AFP.
To conclude, the combination of circulating miRNAs and exosomes might serve as promising biomarkers for non-virus infected HCC screening and cirrhosis discrimination.