CD147/Basigin: a Warburg oncogene in hepatocellular carcinoma?

Diego Francesco Calvisi


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide, ranking fifth in incidence and second in mortality (1). Although HCC cases mainly occurred in South-East Asia and Southern Africa in the past, the incidence of this disease has been on the rise in the Western countries over the forty last years (1). Despite the advances in the diagnostic techniques and novel therapies, HCC remains a tumor with a dismal prognosis (2-4). While the detection of HCC at an early stage allows the employment of potentially curative treatments, such as liver transplantation, surgical resection and tumor ablation, over two thirds of patients are diagnosed at a late stage of the disease, when conventional therapeutic approaches are ineffective (2-4). Furthermore, administration of the multikinase inhibitor Sorafenib, the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for targeted therapy of advanced HCC, provides only limited benefits to HCC patients in terms of overall survival (2-4). Thus, in order to improve significantly the effectiveness of therapeutic strategies against liver cancer, a deeper understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of this deadly disease is necessary.