Introduction: Although sorafenib is the upfront standard of care for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), molecular predictors of efficacy have not been identified yet. In the ALICE-1 study, rs2010963 of VEGF-A and VEGF-C proved to be independent predictive factors for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in multivariate analysis. The ALICE-1 study results were confirmed in the ALICE-2 study, in which VEGF and VEGFR SNPs were analyzed. In the ePHAS study we analyzed the SNPs of eNOS. In univariate analysis, patients homozygous for an eNOS haplotype (HT1: T-4b at eNOS-786/eNOS VNTR) had significantly shorter median PFS and OS than those with other haplotypes. These data were confirmed in the validation set. Methods: This nonpharmacological, interventional, prospective multicenter study aims to determine whether eNOS, HIF-1, VEGF, Ang2 and VEGFR polymorphisms play a role in predicting the objective response rate, PFS, and OS of advanced HCC patients treated with sorafenib. The study will involve 160 advanced HCC patients with Child-Pugh class A disease. The primary aim is to validate the prognostic or predictive roles of eNOS, Ang2, HIF-1, VEGF and VEGFR polymorphisms in relation to the clinical outcome (PFS) of HCC patients treated with sorafenib. Conclusions: Overall, our data may suggest that polymorphism analysis of the VEGF, VEGFR-2, HIF and eNOS genes can identify HCC patients who are more likely to benefit from sorafenib.
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