Sex and Race-Related DNA Methylation Changes in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 7;22(8):3820. doi: 10.3390/ijms22083820.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the sixth most common cancer and fourth leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The number of HCC cases continues to rise despite advances in screening and therapeutic inventions. More importantly, HCC poses two major health disparity issues. First, HCC occurs more commonly in men than women. Second, with the global increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD), it has also become evident that HCC is more prevalent in some races and/or ethnic groups compared to others, depending on its predisposing etiology. Most studies on HCC in the past have been focused on genetic factors as the driving force for HCC development, and the results revealed that genetic mutations associated with HCC are often heterogeneous and involve multiple pathogenic pathways. An emerging new research field is epigenetics, in which gene expression is modified without altering DNA sequences. In this article, we focus on reviewing current knowledge on HCC-related DNA methylation changes that show disparities among different sexes or different racial/ethnic groups, in an effort to establish a point of departure for resolving the broader issue of health disparities in gastrointestinal malignancies using cutting-edge epigenetic approaches.

PMID:33917049 | DOI:10.3390/ijms22083820