Mitsuhiko Moriyama, Hitomi Nakamura, Masahiro Ogawa, Toshikatu Shibata, Kazumichi Kuroda
Received: November 15, 2023
Accepted: January 22, 2024
Released online: February 15, 2024


Background: We aimed to investigate the correlation between hepcidin mRNA expression and the pathophysiology of the liver or the long-term prognosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) or liver cirrhosis (LC).
Methods: A total of 82 patients with CHC or LC who underwent liver biopsy were included in this study. Hepcidin mRNA expression was detected in the frozen liver tissues obtained from patients with CHC or LC who underwent liver biopsy. Hepcidin mRNA expression in frozen liver tissues was assessed using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. We previously reported that the extent of proliferation of atypical hepatocytes (POAH) within the six-cell lesion of irregular regeneration (IR) of hepatocytes is a significant histological finding associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from CHC or LC. Therefore, we investigated the association between hepcidin mRNA expression and disease severity, pathological findings such as the extent of POAH, and the incidence of HCC development from CHC and LC. Furthermore, we compared hepcidin mRNA expression with serum cytokine and chemokine levels using a Bio-plex suspension array system (Bio-Rad Laboratories, CA, USA).
Results: Hepcidin mRNA expression was associated with serum ferritin concentration (p=0.009) and unsaturated iron-binding capacity (P=0.0003) in the serological parameters, but no association was found with histological parameters. The cumulative incidence of HCC development was significantly higher in the low hepcidin mRNA expression group than in the high hepcidin mRNA expression group (p=0.003). Additionally, patients with lower hepcidin mRNA levels tended to exhibit more extensive POAH (p=0.0089). Hepcidin mRNA expression was also significantly associated with apoptosis-related and anti-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines.
Conclusions: Low hepcidin mRNA expression may be a risk factor for carcinogenesis in patients with CHC or LC.

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