In almost all cases, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) develops as the endpoint of a sequence that starts with chronic liver injury, progresses to liver cirrhosis, and finally, over years and decades, results in liver cancer. Recently, the role of non-coding RNA such as microRNA (miRNA) has been demonstrated in the context of chronic liver diseases and HCC. Moreover, data from a phase II trial suggested a potential role of microRNAs as therapeutics in hepatitis-C-virus infection, representing a significant risk factor for development of liver cirrhosis and HCC. Despite progress in the clinical management of chronic liver diseases, pharmacological treatment options for patients with liver cirrhosis and/or advanced HCC are still limited. With their potential to regulate whole networks of genes, miRNA might be used as novel therapeutics in these patients but could also serve as biomarkers for improved patient stratification. In this review, we discuss available data on the role of miRNA in the transition from liver cirrhosis to HCC. We highlight opportunities for clinical translation and discuss open issues applicable to future developments.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma