Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 6539–6549 | Cite as

Combination of miR-125b and miR-27a enhances sensitivity and specificity of AFP-based diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Duo Zuo
  • Liwei Chen
  • Xiaoqian Liu
  • Xia Wang
  • Qing Xi
  • Yi Luo
  • Ning Zhang
  • Hua Guo
Original Article


Non-invasive biomarkers of early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) could offer immense benefits. Currently available tumor markers for HCC are of not much clinical relevance. In this study, we investigated the potential for using a panel of serum microRNAs (miRNAs) as novel tumor markers in conjunction with serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) for diagnosis of HCC. Serum expression of four miRNAs was assessed in 150 subjects (90 cases of HCC and 60 cases without cancer) by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the potential use of miRNAs for detection of HCC. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to evaluate diagnostic accuracy. A panel of serum miRNAs (miR-125b, miR-223, miR-27a, and miR-26a) used in conjunction with AFP helped differentiate HCC patients from those in the non-cancer group after adjusting for age and gender, with the area under the curve of 0.870. In addition, the use of miR-125b/miR-27a panel differentiated HBV-related early-stage HCC with a high sensitivity (80.0 %) and specificity (87.2 %) in AFP-negative (−) subjects. A combination of serum miR-125b, miR-223, miR-27a, and miR-26a as a second-line tests could help detect HCC in AFP (−) subjects. The panel of miR-125b/miR-27a/AFP had a higher sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of early-stage HCC as compared to that of a single marker.


miR-125b miR-27a Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) Diagnosis 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No: 81201646, 81125019), 863 program of China (Grant No: 2011AA02A111), and Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital Level Program (Grant No: Y1302).

Compliance with ethical standard

This study was approved by the ethical committee in Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital and Tianjin Medical University General Hospital and written informed consent obtained from all participants.

Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material

13277_2015_4545_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (67 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 67 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Duo Zuo
    • 1
  • Liwei Chen
    • 2
  • Xiaoqian Liu
    • 3
  • Xia Wang
    • 4
  • Qing Xi
    • 2
  • Yi Luo
    • 2
  • Ning Zhang
    • 2
  • Hua Guo
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Laboratory, National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and Therapy, Tianjin, National“863” Plan Clinical Research LaboratoryTianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and HospitalTianjinChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Cancer Cell Biology, National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and TherapyTianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and HospitalTianjinChina
  3. 3.Department of Biostatistics, College of Public HealthTianjin Medical UniversityTianjinChina
  4. 4.Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology, National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and TherapyTianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and HospitalTianjinChina

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