Open Access Research article

Peretinoin, an acyclic retinoid, improves the hepatic gene signature of chronic hepatitis C following curative therapy of hepatocellular carcinoma

Masao Honda12*, Taro Yamashita1, Tatsuya Yamashita1, Kuniaki Arai1, Yoshio Sakai1, Akito Sakai1, Mikiko Nakamura1, Eishiro Mizukoshi1 and Shuichi Kaneko1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Kanazawa University, 13-1Takara-machi, Kanazawa 920-0934, Japan

2 Department of Advanced Medical Technology, Graduate School of Health Medicine, Kanazawa University, 13-1Takara-machi, Kanazawa 920-8641, Japan

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:191  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-191

Published: 15 April 2013



The acyclic retinoid, peretinoin, has been shown to be effective for suppressing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) recurrence after definitive treatment in a small-scale randomized clinical trial. However, little has been documented about the mechanism by which peretinoin exerts its inhibitory effects against recurrent HCC in humans in vivo.


Twelve hepatitis C virus-positive patients whose HCC had been eradicated through curative resection or ablation underwent liver biopsy at baseline and week 8 of treatment with either a daily dose of 300 or 600 mg peretinoin. RNA isolated from biopsy samples was subjected to gene expression profile analysis.


Peretinoin treatment elevated the expression levels of IGFBP6, RBP1, PRB4, CEBPA, G0S2, TGM2, GPRC5A, CYP26B1, and many other retinoid target genes. Elevated expression was also observed for interferon-, Wnt-, and tumor suppressor-related genes. By contrast, decreased expression levels were found for mTOR- and tumor progression-related genes. Interestingly, gene expression profiles for week 8 of peretinoin treatment could be classified into two groups of recurrence and non-recurrence with a prediction accuracy rate of 79.6% (P<0.05). In the liver of patients with non-recurrence, expression of PDGFC and other angiogenesis genes, cancer stem cell marker genes, and genes related to tumor progression was down-regulated, while expression of genes related to hepatocyte differentiation, tumor suppression genes, and other genes related to apoptosis induction was up-regulated.


Gene expression profiling at week 8 of peretinoin treatment could successfully predict HCC recurrence within 2 years. This study is the first to show the effect of peretinoin in suppressing HCC recurrence in vivo based on gene expression profiles and provides a molecular basis for understanding the efficacy of peretinoin.

Acyclic retinoid; Gene expression; Hepatocellular carcinoma