Dickkopf-1 and Amphiregulin as Novel Biomarkers and Potential Therapeutic Targets in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

  • Abeer E. Awad
  • Mohamed A. Ebrahim
  • Laila A. Eissa
  • Mamdouh M. El-Shishtawy
Keywords: HCC; Dickkopf-1; Amphiregulin


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly fatal tumor which represents a major health problem worldwide. Due to asymptomatic nature of HCC, most patients present with the progressive stage of disease, so, unfortunately, there are no effective therapies. Existing techniques for HCC surveillance and diagnosis lack the required accuracy. Therefore, searching for new diagnostic and/or therapeutic tools could improve patient survival. This study aimed to estimate the diagnostic role of Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) and amphiregulin (AREG) and to find out their correlation with different clinicopathological parameters in HCC patients.

Materials and Methods: Serum levels of DKK1 and AREG in 55 HCC patients, 20 cirrhotic patients, and 15 healthy subjects as control group were measured using the ELISA technique.

Results: Both of DKK1 and AREG showed a significant increase in the HCC group compared to cirrhotic and healthy groups. DKK1 at a cutoff point of 8.92 ng/ml showed that the area under the curve (AUC) was 0.826 with 87.3% sensitivity and 82.9% specificity. DKK1 showed a significant correlation with tumor size, liver dysfunction, and poor performance status in HCC patients. AREG at a cutoff point of 8.74 pg/ml showed a sensitivity of 74.5% but low specificity (47.1%). AREG showed a significant correlation with portal vein thrombosis and tumor metastasis in HCC patients.

Conclusion: Serum DKK1 could be a diagnostic biomarker for HCC. Both of DKK1 and AREG may play significant roles in tumor progression and may offer promising therapeutic targets in HCC patients.