Micro RNA Expression Profiles as Adjunctive Data to Assess the Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Recurrence After Liver Transplantation
Donor livers are precious resources and it is, therefore, ethically imperative that we employ optimally sensitive and specific transplant selection criteria. Current selection criteria, the Milan criteria, for liver transplant candidates with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are primarily based on radiographic characteristics of the tumor. Although the Milan criteria result in reasonably high survival and low-recurrence rates, they do not assess an individual patient's tumor biology and recurrence risk. Consequently, it is difficult to predict on an individual basis the risk for recurrent disease. To address this, we employed microarray profiling of microRNA (miRNA) expression from formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissues to define a biomarker that distinguishes between patients with and without HCC recurrence after liver transplant. In our cohort of 64 patients, this biomarker outperforms the Milan criteria in that it identifies patients outside of Milan who did not have recurrent disease and patients within Milan who had recurrence. We also describe a method to account for multifocal tumors in biomarker signature discovery.