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Highly elevated soluble Tim-3 levels correlate with increased hepatocellular carcinoma risk and poor survival of hepatocellular carcinoma patients in chronic hepatitis B virus infection

Authors Li F, Li N, Sang J, Fan X, Deng H, Zhang X, Han Q, Lv Y, Liu Z

Received 13 January 2018

Accepted for publication 5 March 2018

Published 1 May 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 941—951


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Lu-Zhe Sun

Fang Li,1 Na Li,1 Jiao Sang,1 Xiude Fan,1 Huan Deng,1 Xiaoge Zhang,1 Qunying Han,1 Yi Lv,2,3 Zhengwen Liu1,3

1Department of Infectious Diseases, First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China; 2Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China; 3Institute of Advanced Surgical Technology and Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China

Background and objective: Upregulated T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain containing molecule-3 (Tim-3) in hepatitis B virus (HBV)-specific CD8+ T-cells contributes to CD8+ T-cell exhaustion during chronic HBV infection. The membrane-bound Tim-3 can be cleaved from the cell surface by sheddase, yielding soluble Tim-3 (sTim-3). This study investigated serum sTim-3 levels in patients with chronic HBV infection of various liver diseases.
Methods: Serum sTim-3 levels were quantitatively determined in 288 patients with chronic HBV infection of various liver diseases. The sTim-3 levels were analyzed in relation to liver diseases including HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and overall survival of HCC patients.
Results: Serum sTim-3 levels in the patients with chronic HBV infection were significantly elevated compared with healthy controls (P<0.001) and the levels from asymptomatic HBV carrier status, chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis to HCC were progressively increased. Serum sTim-3 levels were closely associated with the severity of liver function abnormalities. Importantly, serum sTim-3 levels were independently associated with HCC risk (OR, 4.310; 95% CI, 2.141–8.676, P<0.001) in comparison to non-HCC diseases in chronic HBV infection and significantly associated with the overall survival of HCC patients, with a level >3000 pg/mL being related to shorter overall survival than a level ≤3000 pg/mL (P=0.019).
Conclusion: Serum sTim-3 is involved in disease progression and HCC development in chronic HBV infection and its quantitative determination may be potentially used as a marker for monitoring the disease progression and predicting the HCC prognosis in chronic HBV infection.

Keywords: hepatitis B virus, soluble Tim-3, hepatocellular carcinoma, risk, survival

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