MHC class I polypeptide-related chain A (MICA) molecule is induced in response to viral infection and various types of stress. We recently reported that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2596542 located in the MICA promoter region was significantly associated with the risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV)-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and also with serum levels of soluble MICA (sMICA). In this study, we focused on the possible involvement of MICA in liver carcinogenesis related to hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and examined correlation between the MICA polymorphism and the serum sMICA levels in HBV-induced HCC patients. The genetic association analysis revealed a nominal association with an SNP rs2596542; a G allele was considered to increase the risk of HBV-induced HCC (P = 0.029 with odds ratio of 1.19). We also found a significant elevation of sMICA in HBV-induced HCC cases. Moreover, a G allele of SNP rs2596542 was significantly associated with increased sMICA levels (P = 0.009). Interestingly, HCC patients with the high serum level of sMICA (>5 pg/ml) exhibited poorer prognosis than those with the low serum level of sMICA (≤5 pg/ml) (P = 0.008). Thus, our results highlight the importance of MICA genetic variations and the significance of sMICA as a predictive biomarker for HBV-induced HCC.
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