Aberrant metabolism in hepatocellular carcinoma provides diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities

Serena De Matteis, Andrea Ragusa, Giorgia Marisi, Stefania De Domenico, Andrea Casadei Gardini, Massimiliano Bonafè, Anna Maria Giudetti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for over 80% of liver cancer cases and is highly malignant, recurrent, drug-resistant, and often diagnosed in the advanced stage. It is clear that early diagnosis and a better understanding of molecular mechanisms contributing to HCC progression is clinically urgent. Metabolic alterations clearly characterize HCC tumors. Numerous clinical parameters currently used to assess liver functions reflect changes in both enzyme activity and metabolites. Indeed, differences in glucose and acetate utilization are used as a valid clinical tool for stratifying patients with HCC. Moreover, increased serum lactate can distinguish HCC from normal subjects, and serum lactate dehydrogenase is used as a prognostic indicator for HCC patients under therapy. Currently, the emerging field of metabolomics that allows metabolite analysis in biological fluids is a powerful method for discovering new biomarkers. Several metabolic targets have been identified by metabolomics approaches, and these could be used as biomarkers in HCC. Moreover, the integration of different omics approaches could provide useful information on the metabolic pathways at the systems level. In this review, we provided an overview of the metabolic characteristics of HCC considering also the reciprocal influences between the metabolism of cancer cells and their microenvironment. Moreover, we also highlighted the interaction between hepatic metabolite production and their serum revelations through metabolomics researches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7512159
JournalOxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Ageing
  • Cell Biology


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