Research Papers:

Targeting the microRNA-21/AP1 axis by 5-fluorouracil and pirarubicin in human hepatocellular carcinoma

Xiaodong He, Jingjing Li, Weidong Guo, Wei Liu, Jia Yu, Wei Song, Lei Dong, Fang Wang, Shuangni Yu, Yi Zheng, Songsen Chen, Yan Kong and Changzheng Liu _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:2302-2314. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2955

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Xiaodong He1,*, Jingjing Li1,*, Weidong Guo2,*, Wei Liu1, Jia Yu3, Wei Song3, Lei Dong3, Fang Wang3, Shuangni Yu4, Yi Zheng1, Songsen Chen3, Yan Kong5 and Changzheng Liu3

1 Department of General Surgery, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, PR China

2 Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, The Affiliated Hospital of Medical College, Qingdao University, Qingdao, PR China

3 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, State Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, School of Basic Medicine Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, PR China

4 Department of Pathology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, PR China

5 Key laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research (Ministry of Education), Department of Renal Cancer and Melanoma, Peking University Cancer Hospital & Institute, Beijing, China

* Authors share co-first authorship


Changzheng Liu, email:

Yan Kong, email:

Wei Liu, email:

Keywords: microRNA-21, AP-1, hepatocellular carcinoma, chemotherapy, HIAC

Received: September 30, 2014 Accepted: December 09, 2014 Published: December 10, 2014


MicroRNAs function as oncomiRs and tumor suppressors in diverse cancers. However, the utility of specific microRNAs in predicting the clinical benefit of chemotherapy has not been well-established. Here, we investigated the correlation between microRNA-21 expression and hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil and pirarubicin (HAIC) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We found that HCC patients with low microRNA-21 levels in tumors tended to have a longer time to recurrence and disease-free survival. We demonstrated that microRNA-21 suppression in combination with 5-fluorouracil and pirarubicin treatment inhibited tumor growth in subcutaneous xenograft mice models. Mechanistically, the AP-1 and microRNA-21-mediated axis was verified to be a therapeutic target of cytotoxic drugs and deregulation of this axis led to an enhanced cell growth in HCC. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that microRNA-21 is a chemotherapy responsive microRNA and can serve as a prognostic biomarker for HCC patients undergoing HAIC. Targeting microRNA-21 enhances the effect of chemotherapeutic drugs, thereby suggesting that microRNA-21 suppression in combination with HAIC may be a novel approach for HCC treatment.

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