Protective Role of Decorin in Primary Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Andrea Reszegi, Zsolt Horváth, Hajnalka Fehér, Barnabás Wichmann, P. Tátrai, I. Kovalszky, Kornélia Baghy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents one of the most frequent type of primary liver cancers. Decorin, a small leucine-rich proteoglycan of the extracellular matrix, represents a powerful tumor cell growth and migration inhibitor by hindering receptor tyrosine kinases and inducing p21WAF1/CIP1. In this study, first we tested decorin expression in HCCs utilizing in silico data, as well as formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue samples of HCC in a tissue microarray (TMA). In silico data revealed that DCN/SMA mRNA ratio is decreased in HCC compared to normal tissues and follows the staging of the disease. Among TMA samples, 52% of HCCs were decorin negative, 33% exhibited low, and 15% high decorin levels corroborating in silico results. In addition, applying conditioned media of hepatoma cells inhibited decorin expression in LX2 stellate cells in vitro. These results raise the possibility that decorin acts as a tumor suppressor in liver cancer and that is why its expression decreased in HCCs. To further test the protective role of decorin, the proteoglycan was overexpressed in a mouse model of hepatocarcinogenesis evoked by thioacetamide (TA). After transfection, the excessive proteoglycan amount was mainly detected in hepatocytes around the central veins. Upon TA-induced hepatocarcinogenesis, the highest tumor count was observed in mice with no decorin production. Decorin gene delivery reduced tumor formation, in parallel with decreased pEGFR, increased pIGF1R levels, and with concomitant induction of pAkt (T308) and phopho-p53, suggesting a novel mechanism of action. Our results suggest the idea that decorin can be utilized as an anti-cancer agent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number645
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - May 12 2020


  • decorin (DCN)
  • extracellular matrix (ECM)
  • hepatocarcinogenesis
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • proteoglycan (PG)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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