This article was originally published here
PLoS One. 2021 Oct 1;16(10):e0257072. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0257072. eCollection 2021.
Liver cancer morbidity and mortality rates differ among ethnic groups. In the United States, the burden of liver cancer in Asian Americans (AS) is higher compared to Caucasian Americans (CA). Research on liver cancer health disparities has mainly focused on environmental and socioeconomic factors yet has ignored the genotypic differences among various racial/ethnic groups. This lack of molecular level understanding has hindered the development of personalized medical approaches for liver cancer treatment. To understand the genetic heterogeneity of liver cancer between AS and CA, we performed a systematic analysis of RNA-seq data of AS and CA patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We used four differential gene expression analysis packages; DESeq2, limma, edgeR, and Superdelta2, to identify the differentially expressed genes. Our analysis identified cytochrome P450-2D6 enzyme (CYP2D6) as the gene with the greatest differential expression with higher levels in AS compared to CA. To scrutinize the underlying mechanism of CYP2D6, Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) and Cytoscape were conducted and found hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α (HNF4A) and interleukin-6 (IL6) in direct association with CYP2D6. IL6 is downregulated in AS compared to CA, while HNF4A is not significantly different. Herein, we report that CYP2D6 may serve as a putative biomarker in liver cancer health disparities. Its negative association with IL6 proclaims an intricate relationship between CYP2D6 and inflammation in the ethnic differences seen in AS and CA liver cancer patients. The goal of the present study was to understand how genetic factors may contribute to the interethnic variability of liver cancer prevalence and outcomes in AS and CA patients. Identifying ethnic-specific genes may help ameliorate detection, diagnosis, surveillance, and treatments of liver cancer, as well as reduce disease-related incidence and mortality rates in the vulnerable population.