Expression and immunogenicity of NY-ESO-1 in hepatocellular carcinoma

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Background and Aim

The present study was designed to investigate the expression of and humoral response against NY-ESO-1 in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and to analyze the relationship between expression of NY-ESO-1 mRNA and clinicopathological features.


NY-ESO-1 mRNA and protein expression in surgically resected hepatocellular carcinoma specimens, adjacent non-cancerous liver and non-tumor bearing liver were examined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemical staining using a monoclonal antibody against NY-ESO-1 (ES121), respectively. The antibody response to NY-ESO-1 was examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using recombinant NY-ESO-1 protein.


NY-ESO-1 mRNA was detected in 18 of 41 (43.9%) hepatocellular carcinomas. No NY-ESO-1 mRNA was expressed in 41 paired non-cancerous specimens and 18 specimens histologically diagnosed as liver cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis. Immunohistochemistry revealed heterogeneous expression of NY-ESO-1 protein in three of 18 NY-ESO-1 mRNA-positive hepatocellular carcinomas. None of 23 NY-ESO-1 mRNA-negative hepatocellular carcinomas expressed NY-ESO-1 protein. Antibody against NY-ESO-1 protein was detected in two of 92 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Both of these patients had tumors invading main branches of the portal vein.


The present study has demonstrated the expression of NY-ESO-1 mRNA in hepatocellular carcinoma and NY-ESO-1 antibody production in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. Although the enhancement of NY-ESO-1 protein expression and the activation of immune response of the patients with hepatocellular carcinoma are necessary, NY-ESO-1 has the potential to be a good target molecule for immunotherapy against advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.

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