Background: Constitutive activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 at tyrosine residue 705 (p-STAT3 (tyr705)) has been associated with many types of human cancers. However, its potential roles and biological effects in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are not well established.
Aim: To explore whether an altered p-STAT3 (tyr705) expression is associated with angiogenesis or proliferation and thereby plays a part in HCC development.
Methods: Paraffin-wax-embedded sections from 69 patients with HCC were collected in this study. Using a semiquantitative immunohistochemical staining method, the expression patterns of p-STAT3 (tyr705) in both HCC lesions and the adjacent non-tumorous liver parenchyma were analysed. The results obtained were further correlated with intratumour microvessel density (MVD), Ki-67 expression, clinicopathological parameters and overall survival.
Results: A strong p-STAT3 (tyr705) nuclear staining was observed in 49.3% of HCC lesions, but was reported only in 5.8% of the adjacent non-tumorous liver parenchyma (p<0.001). The expression of p-STAT3 (tyr705) in HCC lesions was significantly and positively correlated with the intratumour MVD (p = 0.002), but not with Ki-67 expression. No significant correlation of p-STAT3 (tyr705) was found in addition to histological grading (p = 0.019). Multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that p-STAT3 (tyr705) expression was a significant predictor of overall survival for HCC (p = 0.036), although the Kaplan–Meier survival curves showed no significant difference between the high and low p-STAT3 (tyr705) expression subgroups.
Conclusions: The results showed that p-STAT3 (tyr705) expression was closely correlated with histological grading and intratumour MVD in HCC. Thus, the potential role of p-STAT3 (tyr705) in HCC development may be through these correlations.
- HBV, hepatitis B virus
- HCV, hepatitis C virus
- HCC, hepatocellular carcinoma
- MVD, microvessel density
- p-STAT3 (tyr705), phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription protein 3 at tyrosine residue 705
- VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor