Background: Chemerin has been suggested to chemoattract dendritic cells (DC) and natural killer (NK) cells which have the antitumor role. However, no study has been performed to determine the expression of chemerin in tumor tissues. The aim of our study is to investigate chemerin expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tumor tissues and to correlate chemerin expression with clinicopathological parameters and prognosis.
Methods: In a random series of 124 HCC patients, the expression of chemerin protein in tumor tissues and matched non-tumor tissues were detected by immunohistochemistry. The infiltration of DC and NK cells was examined by CD11c and CD56 immunostaining to observe whether it correlated with the level of chemerin protein expression. The correlation of chemerin expression levels with clinicopathologic variables and prognosis was also analyzed.
Results: The expression of chemerin protein was significantly decreased in HCC of 72 patients compared with paracarcinomatous liver tissue. The level of chemerin expression was significantly correlated with tumor size (p = 0.016), histological grade (p = 0.027) and the infiltration of DC and NK cells (p = 0.027 and p = 0.035, respectively). Survival analysis indicated that HCC patients with lower chemerin expression had poorer survival than those with higher expression (p <0.001). Multivariable Cox regression analysis revealed that the chemerin expression level was an independent factor for prognosis (HR 3.034, 95 % CI 1.017 to 9.053; p = 0.047).
Conclusions: The results suggest that chemerin may play an important role in the development and progression of HCC via the recruitment of DC and NK cells.
DOI: Clin. Lab. 2011;57:879-885