Background

Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been applied as biomarkers in many diseases. However, scarce biomarkers are available in single lncRNA differential expression associated with different clinical stages of liver cirrhosis (LC). The aim of the study is to identify some lncRNAs that can serve as non-invasive sensitive biomarkers for early diagnosis and grade of LC.

Methods

Blood lncRNA expression was evaluated in three independent cohorts with 305 participants including healthy controls, hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers, and patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) or LC. First, candidate lncRNAs were screened by CapitalBiotech microarray to diagnose cirrhosis. Quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was then used to investigate the expression of selected lncRNAs in the whole group of cirrhosis and different Child–Pugh classes. Ultimately, the diagnostic accuracy of the promising biomarker was examined and validated via Mann–Whitney test and receiver-operating characteristics analysis.

Results

Lnc-TCL6 was identified as a sensitive biomarker for early diagnosis of LC (Child–Pugh A) compared with healthy controls (area under the ROC curve [AUC] = 0.636), HBV carriers (AUC = 0.671), and CHB patients (AUC = 0.672). Furthermore, lnc-TCL6 showed a favourable capacity in discriminating among different Child–Pugh classes (AUC: 0.711–0.837). Compared with healthy controls, HBV carriers, and CHB patients, the expression of lnc-TCL6 was obviously up-regulated in Child–Pugh A patients and, conversely, significantly down-regulated in Child–Pugh C patients.

Conclusions

Lnc-TCL6 is a novel potential biomarker for early diagnosis of LC and is a possible predictor of disease progression.

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