Risk of hepatocellular carcinoma after hcv clearance by direct-acting antivirals treatment predictive factors and role of epigenetics

Luca Rinaldi, Riccardo Nevola, Gianluigi Franci, Alessandro Perrella, Giusy Corvino, Aldo Marrone, Massimiliano Berretta, Maria Vittoria Morone, Marilena Galdiero, Mauro Giordano, Luigi Elio Adinolfi, Ferdinando Carlo Sasso

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) induce a rapid virologic response (SVR) in up to 99% of chronic hepatitis C patients. The role of SVR by DAAs on the incidence or recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is still a matter of debate, although it is known that SVR does not eliminate the risk of HCC. In this review, we made an updated analysis of the literature data on the impact of SVR by DAAs on the risk of HCC as well as an assessment of risk factors and the role of epigenetics. Data showed that SVR has no impact on the occurrence of HCC in the short–medium term but reduces the risk of HCC in the medium–long term. A direct role of DAAs in the development of HCC has not been demonstrated, while the hypothesis of a reduction in immune surveillance in response to the rapid clearance of HCV and changes in the cytokine pattern influencing early carcinogenesis remains to be further elucidated. HCV induces epigenetic alterations such as modifications of the histone tail and DNA methylation, which are risk factors for HCC, and such changes are maintained after HCV clearance. Future epigenetic studies could lead to identify useful biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Cirrhosis has been identified as a risk factor for HCC, particularly if associated with high liver stiffness and α-fetoprotein values, diabetes and the male sex. Currently, considering the high number and health cost to follow subjects’ post-HCV clearance by DAAs, it is mandatory to identify those at high risk of HCC to optimize management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1351
Number of pages18
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Cytokines
  • Direct acting antivirals
  • Epigenetic modulation
  • HCV
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Sustained virological response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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