Background: MicroRNAs have been shown to play a critical role in early diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma. Nevertheless, microRNAs’ functions in serum of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are not fully understood.
Methods: qRT-PCR was used to detect the expression level of microRNA-203a (miR-203a) in clinical serum samples of HCC and HepG2 cells. Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate overall survival, and the cell scratch test was used to observe the migration ability of cells in vitro.
Results: Here, we first observed that serum miR-203a was significantly upregulated in HCC patients with HBV compared to without HBV. In HCC patients, miR-203a low expression was positively related with poor overall survival. In addition, we found that HBV improved the poor prognosis of HCC patients with lower miR-203a levels. After successfully constructing HepG2 cell line carrying HBV, further studies demonstrated miR-203a expression level was increased in HepG2 with HBV compared to without HBV.
Conclusions: Lower serum miR-203a level in HCC patients led to worse overall survival, which depended on HBV. In vitro, miR-203a level was positively correlated with HBV. Therefore, our studies provided the novel insight into the role of serum miR-203a in HCC patients with HBV and potential new molecular target for early diagnosis of hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma.