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Anti-miR-518d-5p overcomes liver tumor cell death resistance through mitochondrial activity

Lookup NU author(s): Misti McCainORCiD, Professor Helen ReevesORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021, The Author(s). Dysregulation of miRNAs is a hallmark of cancer, modulating oncogenes, tumor suppressors, and drug responsiveness. The multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib is one of the first-line drugs for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), although the outcome for treated patients is heterogeneous. The identification of predictive biomarkers and targets of sorafenib efficacy are sorely needed. Thus, selected top upregulated miRNAs from the C19MC cluster were analyzed in different hepatoma cell lines compared to immortalized liver human cells, THLE-2 as control. MiR-518d-5p showed the most consistent upregulation among them. Thus, miR-518d-5p was measured in liver tumor/non-tumor samples of two distinct cohorts of HCC patients (n = 16 and n = 20, respectively). Circulating miR-518d-5p was measured in an independent cohort of HCC patients receiving sorafenib treatment (n = 100), where miR-518d-5p was analyzed in relation to treatment duration and patient’s overall survival. In vitro and in vivo studies were performed in human hepatoma BCLC3 and Huh7 cells to analyze the effect of miR-518d-5p inhibition/overexpression during the response to sorafenib. Compared with healthy individuals, miR-518d-5p levels were higher in hepatic and serum samples from HCC patients (n = 16) and in an additional cohort of tumor/non-tumor paired samples (n = 20). MiR-518d-5p, through the inhibition of c-Jun and its mitochondrial target PUMA, desensitized human hepatoma cells and mouse xenograft to sorafenib-induced apoptosis. Finally, serum miR-518d-5p was assessed in 100 patients with HCC of different etiologies and BCLC-stage treated with sorafenib. In BCLC-C patients, higher serum miR-518d-5p at diagnosis was associated with shorter sorafenib treatment duration and survival. Hence, hepatic miR-518d-5p modulates sorafenib resistance in HCC through inhibition of c-Jun/PUMA-induced apoptosis. Circulating miR-518d-5p emerges as a potential lack of response biomarker to sorafenib in BCLC-C HCC patients.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fernandez-Tussy P, Rodriguez-Agudo R, Fernandez-Ramos D, Barbier-Torres L, Zubiete-Franco I, Davalillo SL, Herraez E, Goikoetxea-Usandizaga N, Lachiondo-Ortega S, Simon J, Lopitz-Otsoa F, Juan VG-D, McCain MV, Perugorria MJ, Mabe J, Navasa N, Rodrigues CMP, Fabregat I, Boix L, Sapena V, Anguita J, Lu SC, Mato JM, Banales JM, Villa E, Reeves HL, Bruix J, Reig M, Marin JJG, Delgado TC, Martinez-Chantar ML

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cell Death and Disease

Year: 2021

Volume: 12

Issue: 6

Online publication date: 28/05/2021

Acceptance date: 10/05/2021

Date deposited: 22/08/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2041-4889

Publisher: Springer Nature


DOI: 10.1038/s41419-021-03827-0

PubMed id: 34050139


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