Long non-coding RNAs as biomarkers and therapeutic targets: Recent insights into hepatocellular carcinoma

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most prevalent primary liver cancer worldwide, and the survival rates of patients with HCC remains quite low after 5 years. Long non-coding RNAs (LncRNAs) are a novel class of non-coding RNAs that are capable of regulating gene expression at various levels. Recent works have demonstrated that lncRNAs are often dysregulated in HCC, and the dysregulation of some of these lncRNAs are associated with the clinicopathological features of HCC. They regulate cell proliferation, apoptosis, autophagy, Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT), invasion and metastasis of HCC by modulating gene expression and cancer-related signaling pathways, and thus contribute to the onset and progression of HCC. In this review, we provide a comprehensive survey of dysregulated lncRNAs in HCC, with particular focus on the functions and regulatory mechanisms of several essential and important lncRNAs, and discuss their potential clinical application as early diagnostic and/or prognostic biomarkers or therapeutic targets for HCC.Graphical abstract

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