E2F-1 is a transcription factor involved in DNA synthesis and repair, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. Hyposphorylated pRb represses E2F-1 action in early G1 phase, while in late G1, pRb hyperphosphorylation leads to E2F-1 release and activation. In vitro studies have shown that E2F-1 may act either as oncogene or as tumor suppressor gene. We evaluated immunohistochemical expression of E2F-1 protein in chronic viral liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and correlated this with clinicopathological parameters, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and the expression of E2F-1-regulators, pRb, and phospho-pRb (Ser795). In liver biopsies from 30 patients with chronic viral hepatitis, including 22 with cirrhosis without HCC, and 57 with cirrhosis with HCC, E2F-1 expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry. In chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, hepatocytes and cholangiocytes demonstrated mild cytoplasmic and/or nuclear membrane E2F-1 immunostaining. In contrast, all HCC (100%) showed strong nuclear E2F-1 immunostaining, with or without membrane accentuation, while a minority demonstrated additional moderate cytoplasmic immunostaining. Abnormally low pRb and phospho-pRb expression was seen in 70%and 67.9%of HCC, respectively. In HCC, nuclear E2F-1 expression was inversely correlated with phospho-pRb expression (p00.001) and positively related to tumor apoptotic index (p00.025). No significant correlation was found between E2F-1 expression and patient demographics, HCC etiology, tumor grade, pRb, p53 expression, or cell proliferation. In conclusion, we show that the increased expression of E2F-1 protein in human HCC is correlated with enhanced tumor cell apoptosis supporting a pro-apoptotic role of E2F-1 in human HCC.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma