Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 5561–5568 | Cite as

Abnormality of Wnt3a expression as novel specific biomarker for diagnosis and differentiation of hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Liuhong Pan
  • Min Yao
  • Wenjie Zheng
  • Juanjuan Gu
  • Xuli Yang
  • Liwei Qiu
  • Yin Cai
  • Wei Wu
  • Dengfu YaoEmail author
Original Article


The member 3a of Wingless-type MMTV integration site family (Wnt3a) as an oncogene is overexpressed in many kinds of tumors with a worse outcome. However, the mechanism and alteration of Wnt3a expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have not been clarified. In this study, the levels of Wnt3a expression were investigated in 80 HCC tissues or sera of 186 patients with chronic liver diseases. The incidence of hepatic Wnt3a expression in HCC tissues was 96.25 % and significantly higher (χ 2 = 48.818, P < 0.001) than that in their surrounding tissues (46.25 %). The higher level (>800 ng/L) of circulating Wnt3a expression was found in 92.5 % HCC patients and significantly related (P < 0.05) to alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) level, liver cirrhosis, hepatitis B virus infection, poor differentiation, tumor node metastasis, and extra-hepatic metastasis. The level of Wnt3a expression in HCC patients was obviously higher (P < 0.001) than that in any group of cases with benign liver diseases. The diagnostic specificity or the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 94.34 % or 0.994 in Wnt3a and 69.81 % or 0.710 in AFP for HCC, respectively. The present data suggested that Wnt3a expression associated with tumor progression should be a novel specific biomarker for diagnosis and differentiation of HCC.


ELISA Hepatocellular carcinoma Immunohistochemistry Wnt3a 





Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


Hepatitis B virus


Hepatocellular carcinoma


Hepatitis C virus




Receiver operating characteristic curve


Tissue microarray


Member 3a of Wingless-type MMTV integration site family



This work was partially supported by the Grants from the National Natural Science Foundation (81200634), the Projects of Medical Science (2014-YY-028, H201102, BL2012053, PADA, and Qinglan Program), Jiangsu Province and the International S.&T. Cooperation Program (2013DFA32150) of China, and we thank T. FitzGibbon, M.D. for the comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liuhong Pan
    • 1
  • Min Yao
    • 2
  • Wenjie Zheng
    • 1
  • Juanjuan Gu
    • 3
  • Xuli Yang
    • 3
  • Liwei Qiu
    • 1
  • Yin Cai
    • 4
  • Wei Wu
    • 1
  • Dengfu Yao
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Research Center of Clinical MedicineAffiliated Hospital of Nantong UniversityNantongChina
  2. 2.Department of ImmunologyMedical School of Nantong UniversityNantongChina
  3. 3.Department of OncologyAffiliated Hospital of Nantong UniversityNantongChina
  4. 4.Department of PathologyAffiliated Hospital of Nantong UniversityNantongChina

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