Arsenic is a human carcinogen and can activate epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in human cell lines. As EGFR is associated with the occurrence of cancers, we conducted a study to evaluate whether serum EGFR may increase in liver cancer patients, particularly in those with exposure to arsenic. We recruited 100 patients of liver cancer and 100 age- and sex-matched controls in Taiwan and determined EGFR levels in sera by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The patients had higher EGFR levels (668.1 vs. 243.1. fmol/mL, p< 0.01), and after adjusting for hepatitis B and C, they still had an average EGFR level 406.1. fmol/mL higher than that of the controls (p< 0.01). When we compared 22 patients residing in an endemic area of arsenic intoxication to 22 age- and sex-matched patients residing outside the area, we found that patients from the endemic area had higher EGFR levels (882.8 vs. 511.6. fmol/mL, p= 0.04). We concluded that EGFR is over-expressed in patients of liver cancer, particularly in those with exposure to arsenic, and therefore, serum EGFR level is not only a potential biomarker of liver cancer, but also a potential biomarker of cancers associated with arsenic exposure.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes