Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is among the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide. Patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) pre-S mutants in liver tissues or blood have been regarded as a high-risk population for HCC development and recurrence. Detection of pre-S mutants in clinical specimens is thus important for early diagnosis and prognosis of HCC to improve patient survival. Recently, we have developed a next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based platform that can quantitatively detect pre-S mutants in patient plasma with superior sensitivity and accuracy. In this study, we compared the pre-S genotyping results from plasma by the NGS-based analysis with those from liver tissues by the immunohistochemistry (IHC)-based analysis in 30 HBV-related HCC patients. We demonstrated that the detection rate of pre-S mutants was significantly higher by NGS- than by IHC-based analysis. There was a moderate to good agreement between both analyses in detection of pre-S mutants. Compared with the IHC, the NGS-based detection of pre-S mutants in patient plasma could determine the patterns of pre-S mutants in liver tissues more efficiently in a noninvasive manner. Our data suggest that the NGS-based platform may represent a promising approach for detection of pre-S mutants as biomarkers of HBV-related HCC in clinical practice.
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