Objectives: c-myc is a transcription factor that regulates cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. However, little is known about the clinical importance of c-myc mRNA expression in a primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, we investigated whether a correlation existed between the level of c-myc mRNA expression and the occurrence of apoptosis or proliferative activity in an HCC. Methods: The levels of c-myc mRNA expression were quantified by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and compared with immunohistochemical detection of the occurrence of spontaneous apoptosis and proliferative activity of cancer cells in 59 surgically resected HCCs. Results: The mean level of c-myc mRNA expression in 59 HCCs (1.19) was significantly suppressed compared with that in 59 noncancerous liver tissues (1.44, p < 0.0001). The level of c-myc mRNA expression was not correlated with tumor differentiation, tumor progression, proliferative activity of cancer cells, or patient survival. However, there was a significant positive correlation between the levels of c-myc mRNA expression and the occurrence of apoptosis in 59 HCCs (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Inhibition of c-myc mRNA expression may obstruct the induction of apoptosis of HCC cells and lead to uncontrolled cell growth.

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