There are few reports about recurrence-related microRNAs (miRNAs) after liver transplantation (LT) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The purpose of this study was to identify novel recurrence-related miRNAs after living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) for HCC. First, we performed microarray analyses of samples from a liver with primary HCC, a liver that was noncancerous, and a liver that had recurrence-metastasis from 3 patients with posttransplant recurrence. Then we selected miRNAs with consistently altered expression in both primary HCC and recurrence as potential candidates of recurrence-related miRNAs. Expression of the miRNAs in HCC and noncancerous livers was assessed in 70 HCC patients who underwent LDLT. The target genes regulated by the recurrence-related miRNAs were identified. MicroRNA-18a (miR-18a) expression was increased, and microRNA-199a-5p (miR-199a-5p) expression was decreased in both primary HCC and recurrence. Increased miR-18a expression correlated with high levels of tumor markers, large tumor size, and a high recurrence rate. Decreased miR-199a-5p expression correlated with high levels of tumor markers, portal venous invasion, and a high recurrence rate. In HCC cells, miR-18a regulated the expression of tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 3 (TNFAIP3), and miR-199a-5p regulated the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1A), vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA), insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor, and insulin-like growth factor 2. In conclusion, increased miR-18a levels and decreased miR-199a-5p levels are relevant to HCC recurrence after LDLT. MiR-18a and miR-199a-5p could be novel therapeutic targets of recurrent HCC after LDLT.
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