Sci Rep 2016 Apr 11;6:23992. Epub 2016 Apr 11.
Division of Population Science, Department of Medical Oncology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.
Recent studies have demonstrated a potential link between circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content and cancers. However, there is no study evaluating the association between circulating mtDNA as a non-invasive marker of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk. We conducted a nested case-control study to determine circulating mtDNA content in serum samples from 116 HBV-related HCC cases and 232 frequency-matched cancer-free HBV controls, and evaluate the retrospective association between mtDNA content and HCC risk using logistic regression and their temporal relationship using a mixed effects model. HCC cases had significantly lower circulating mtDNA content than controls (1.06 versus 2.47, P = 1.7 × 10(-5)). Compared to HBV patients with higher mtDNA content, those with lower mtDNA content had a significantly increased risk of HCC with an odds ratio (OR) of 2.19 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28-3.72, P = 0.004). Quartile analyses revealed a significant dose-dependent effect (Ptrend = 0.001) for this association. In a pilot longitudinal sub-cohort of 14 matched cases-control pairs, we observed a trend of dramatically decreased mtDNA content in cases and slightly decreased mtDNA content in controls, with a significant interaction of case-control status with time (Pinteraction = 0.049). Our findings suggest that circulating mtDNA is a potential novel non-invasive biomarker of HCC risk in HBV patients.