Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for almost 80% of all liver cancer cases and is the sixth most common cancer and the second most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The survival rate of sorafenib-treated advanced HCC patients is still unsatisfactory. Unfortunately, no useful biomarkers have been verified to predict sorafenib efficacy in HCC. Results: We assessed a sorafenib resistance-related microarray dataset and found that anterior gradient 2 (AGR2) is highly associated with overall and recurrence-free survival and with several clinical parameters in HCC. However, the mechanisms underlying the role of AGR2 in sorafenib resistance and HCC progression remain unknown. We found that sorafenib induces AGR2 secretion via posttranslational modification and that AGR2 plays a critical role in sorafenib-regulated cell viability and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and induces apoptosis in sorafenib-sensitive cells. In sorafenib-sensitive cells, sorafenib downregulates intracellular AGR2 and conversely induces AGR2 secretion, which suppresses its regulation of ER stress and cell survival. In contrast, AGR2 is highly intracellularly expressed in sorafenib-resistant cells, which supports ER homeostasis and cell survival. We suggest that AGR2 regulates ER stress to influence HCC progression and sorafenib resistance. Conclusions: This is the first study to report that AGR2 can modulate ER homeostasis via the IRE1α-XBP1 cascade to regulate HCC progression and sorafenib resistance. Elucidation of the predictive value of AGR2 and its molecular and cellular mechanisms in sorafenib resistance could provide additional options for HCC treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes