Plasma phenylalanine and glutamine concentrations correlate with subsequent hepatocellular carcinoma occurrence in liver cirrhosis patients: an exploratory study


Liang Kung-Hao,Cheng Mei-Ling,Lo Chi-Jen,Lin Yang-Hsiang,Lai Ming-Wei,Lin Wey-Ran,Yeh Chau-Ting


AbstractAberrant metabolisms have been hypothesized to precede the occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), therefore, we investigated biomarkers associated with subsequent HCC in peripheral bloods using metabolomic technologies. A cohort of 475 HCC-naïve liver cirrhotic patients were recruited and prospectively followed. A total of 39 patients developed HCC in the follow-up period. Baseline plasma metabolites were explored using untargeted nuclear magnetic resonance. Candidates were then quantified by ultra-performance liquid chromatography. A series of univairiate and multivariate analysis showed that Phenylalanine (Phe) and Glutamine (Gln) levels are associated with time to HCC, independent of viological etiologies and age. A HCC risk score R was then constructed using the polynomial combination of age, Phe and Gln in the units of micromolar (μM):$$\begin{aligned} {\text{R }} & = {\text{ Age }}* \, \left( {0.0694} \right) + {\text{ Phe }}* \, \left( {0.3399} \right) + {\text{ Phe }^{2}}* \, \left( { - 0.00188154} \right) \hfill \\ & \quad + {\text{ Gln }}* \, \left( { - 0.0133} \right) + {\text{ Gln }^{2}}* \, \left( { \, 0.00002244} \right) \hfill \\ \end{aligned}$$ R = Age 0.0694 + Phe 0.3399 + Phe 2 - 0.00188154 + Gln - 0.0133 + Gln 2 0.00002244 R correlates with the time to HCC significantly (Hazard ratio [HR] = 2.368, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.760–3.187, P < 0.001). An additional cross-sectional analysis showed that Phe and Gln concentrations both correlates with HCC occurrence in the next 3 years (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC] = 0.607 and 0.629, P = 0.033 and 0.010 respectively). In conclusion, phenylalanine and glutamine concentrations in the peripheral blood correlate with subsequent HCC.


Taipei Veterans General Hospital

Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan

Chang Gung Memorial Hospital


Springer Science and Business Media LLC



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