Background: Identification of events leading to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progression is essential
for understanding its pathophysiology. The aims of this study are to identify and characterize differentially
expressed proteins in serum of HCC-bearing rats and the corresponding controls during cancer initiation,
progression and tumorigenesis.
Methods: Chemical carcinogens, N-Nitrosodiethylamine and 2-aminoacetylfluorine are administered to induce
HCC to male Wistar rats. The 2D-Electrophoresis and PD-Quest analyses are performed to identify several
differentially expressed proteins in serum of HCC-bearing animals. These proteins are further characterized by
MALDI-TOF-MS/MS analyses. Using pathwaylinker a HCC-specific network is analyzed among the MALDITOF-
MS/MS characterized proteins and their interactors.
Results: Carcinogen administration caused inflammation leading to liver injury and HCC development. Liver
inflammation was confirmed by increase in the levels of TNF-α and IL-6 in carcinogen treated rats. We report
significant increase in expression of two differentially expressed proteins, namely, A-Raf and Fatty Acid 2-
Hydroxylase (FA2H), at early stage of HCC initiation, during its progression and at tumor stage. Real-time PCR
analysis of mRNA for these proteins confirmed up-regulation of their transcripts. Further, we validated our
experimental data with sera of clinically confirmed liver cancer patients.
Conclusion: The study suggests that FA2H and A-Raf play a major role in the progression of HCC.