Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the leading cause of cancer-related death
in the world and considered as one of the most susceptible cancers in humans. The microRNA molecule,
hsa-miR122, considered as a potential biological marker linked with the injury of hepatocellular
tissue, is the most common microRNA in human liver cancer. Understanding the expression profile of
hsa-miR122 plays an important role in the diagnosis of HCC.
Objective: Identification and comparison of cut-off values of plasma hsa-miR122 expression were
conducted in blood samples of healthy control, HBV infected and HBV-related HCC Vietnamese patients.
Methods and Result: Fifty-two blood samples of healthy control and HBV-related HCC cases,
collected between 2015 and 2017 were obtained from Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital, Vietnam.
Written informed consent was attained from all patients and the Human Research Ethics Committee,
Oncology Hospital (#08/BVUB-HDDD) approved the research protocol. Total RNA was isolated
from blood samples with TrizolTM
Reagent (Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA). To analyze the
expression level of hsa-miR122, miRNA specific reverse transcription was performed using Sensi-
FASTTM cDNA Synthesis Kit (Bioline, UK) as described by the manufacturer, followed by running
RT-qPCR with SensiFASTTMSYBR No-ROX Kit (Bioline, UK). The housekeeping gene, GAPDH
(glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase) was used for normalization. The presence of hsamiR122
and HBV-DNA was identified in human blood using RT-PCR and LAMP techniques. Downregulation
of plasma hsa-miR122 was observed in HBV-related HCC patients with a Ct value of 7.9
± 2.1 which was significantly lower than found in healthy control (p<0.01). The loss of hsa-miR122
expression was observed in HBV infected patients. We also identified the difference of diagnostic
values of this microRNA in different populations and provided a high diagnostic accuracy of HCC
(AUC = 0.984 with sensitivity and specificity of 96% and 94%, respectively).
Conclusion: hsa-miR122 was downregulated in HBV-related HCC patients and found to be lower by
approximately 10 fold than in healthy control, resulting in a potential biomarker for microRNA based
diagnosis of HCC in human blood.