Background Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) often presents with multiple nodules within the liver, with limited effective interventions. The high genetic heterogeneity of HCC might be the major cause of treatment failure. We aimed to characterize genomic heterogeneity, infer clonal evolution, investigate RNA expression pattern and explore tumour immune microenvironment profile of multifocal HCC. Patients and methods Whole-exome sequencing and RNA sequencing were carried out in 34 tumours and 6 adjacent normal liver tissue samples from 6 multifocal HCC patients. Protein expression of Ki67, AFP, P53, Survivin and CD8 was detected by immunohistochemistry. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was carried out to validate the amplification status of sorafenib-targeted genes. Results We deciphered genomic and transcriptional heterogeneity among tumours in each multifocal HCC patient including mutational profiles, copy number alterations, tumour evolutionary trajectory and tumour immune microenvironment profiles. Of note, sorafenib-targeted alterations were identified in the trunk of phylogenetic tree in only one out of the six patients, which may explain the relative low treatment response rate to sorafenib in clinical practice. Moreover, we demonstrated RNA expression patterns and tumour immune microenvironment profiles of all nodules. We found that RNA expression pattern was associated with Edmondson-Steiner grading. Based on the differential expression of 66 reported immune markers, unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis of 34 nodules identified immune subsets: one low expression cluster with seven nodules and one high expression cluster with 11 nodules. CD8+ T cells were more enriched in nodules of the high expression cluster. Conclusions Our study provided a detailed view of genomic and transcriptional heterogeneity, clonal evolution and immune infiltration of multifocal HCC. The heterogeneity of druggable targets and immune landscape might help interpret the clinical responsiveness to targeted drugs and immunotherapy for multifocal HCC patients.
Background Early-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) evades detection when the primary tumor is hidden from view on endoscopic examination. Therefore, in a prospective study of subjects being screened for NPC using plasma Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA, we conducted a study to investigate whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could detect endoscopically occult NPC. Patients and methods Participants with persistently positive EBV DNA underwent endoscopic examination and biopsy when suspicious for NPC, followed by MRI blinded to the endoscopic findings. Participants with a negative endoscopic examination and positive MRI were recalled for biopsy or surveillance. Diagnostic performance was assessed by calculating sensitivity, specificity and accuracy, based on the histologic confirmation of NPC in the initial study or in a follow-up period of at least two years. Results Endoscopic examination and MRI were performed on 275 participants, 34 had NPC, 2 had other cancers and 239 without cancer were followed-up for a median of 36months (24-60months). Sensitivity, specificity and accuracy were 76.5%, 97.5% and 94.9%, respectively, for endoscopic examination and 91.2%, 97.5% and 96.7%, respectively, for MRI. NPC was detected only by endoscopic examination in 1/34 (2.9%) participants (a participant with stage I disease), and only by MRI in 6/34 (17.6%) participants (stage I=4, II = 1, III = 1), two of whom had stage I disease and follow-up showing slow growth on MRI but no change on endoscopic examination for 36months. Conclusion MRI has a complementary role to play in NPC detection and can enable the earlier detection of endoscopically occult NPC.