Systematic review: Renin-angiotensin system inhibitors in chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma.


Gastroenterology Section, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari 70124, Italy. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Neoangiogenesis is one of the key pathogenetic mechanisms in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Modulation of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) by angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-Is) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) seems to be a possible adjuvant therapy for HCC, due to the anti-angiogenic and anti-fibrogenic activity of these drugs.
OBJECTIVE : To elucidate the role of ARBs and ACE-Is in HCC.
METHODS : We performed an electronic search of the literature using the most accessed online databases (PubMed, Cochrane library, Scopus and Web of Science), entering the query terms "angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors" OR "ACE inhibitors" OR "ACE-I" AND "hepatocarcinoma*" OR "hepatocellular carcinoma; moreover "angiotensin II type 1 receptor blockers" OR "ARBs" AND "hepatocarcinoma*" OR "hepatocellular carcinoma". Eligibility criteria were: (1) prospective or retrospective clinical studies; (2) epidemiological studies; and (3) experimental studies conducted in vivo or in vitro. Abstracts, conference papers, and reviews were excluded a priori. We limited our literature search to articles published in English, in peer-reviewed journals.
RESULTS : Thirty-one studies were selected. Three interventional studies showed that ACE-Is had a significant protective effect on HCC recurrence only when used in combination with vitamin K or branched chain aminoacids, without a significant increase in overall survival. Of six retrospective observational studies, mainly focused on overall survival, only one demonstrated a prolonged survival in the ACE-Is group, whereas the two that also evaluated tumor recurrence showed conflicting results. All experimental studies displayed beneficial effects of RAS inhibitors on hepatocarcinogenesis. Numerous experimental studies, conducted either on animals and cell cultures, demonstrated the anti-angiogenetic and antifibrotic effect of ACE-Is and ARBs, thanks to the suppression of some cytokines such as vascular endothelial growth factor, hypoxia-inducible factor-1a, transforming growth factor-beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha. All or parts of these mechanisms were demonstrated in rodents developing fewer HCC and preneoplastic lesions after receiving such drugs.
CONCLUSIONS : In humans, RAS inhibitors - alone or in combination - significantly suppressed the cumulative HCC recurrence, without prolonging patient survival, but some limitations intrinsic to these studies prompt further investigations.


Angiotensin,Cancer prevention,Cirrhosis,Hepatocarcinoma,Renin,Survival,

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