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Gastroenterology and Hepatology - Immunology - Oncology - Surgery

A Scoring Model Based on Neutrophil to Lymphocyte Ratio Predicts Recurrence of HBV-Associated Hepatocellular Carcinoma after Liver Transplantation
Published: Monday, September 26, 2011
Author: Guo-Ying Wang et al.

by Guo-Ying Wang, Yang Yang, Hua Li, Jian Zhang, Nan Jiang, Min-Ru Li, Huan-Bing Zhu, Qi Zhang, Gui-Hua Chen


Neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) has been proposed to predict prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the cut-off values are empirical. We determined the optimal cut-off value to predict HCC recurrence after liver transplantation (LT) and further established a scoring model based on NLR.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We analyzed the outcome of 101 HBV-associated HCC patients undergoing LT. Preoperative risk factors for tumor recurrence were evaluated by univariate analysis. By using ROC analysis, NLR=3 was considered elevated. The disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) for patients with high NLR was significantly worse than that for patients with normal NLR (the 5-year DFS and OS of 28.5% and 19.5% vs. 64.9% and 61.8%, respectively; P<0.001). Univariate analysis revealed that tumor size >5 cm, tumor number >3, macrovascular invasion, AFP=400 µg/L, NLR=3, and HBV-DNA level >5 log10 copies/mL were preoperative predictors of DFS. Cox regression analysis showed macrovascular invasion, tumor number, and high NLR were independent prognostic factors. We then established a preoperative prognostic score based on multivariate analysis. Each factor was given a score of 1. Area under the ROC curve of the score was 0.781. All nine patients with score 3 developed recurrence within 6 months after LT. Of 71 patients without vascular invasion, three patients with both tumor number >3 and NLR=3 developed recurrence within 14 months after LT while the 5-year DFS and OS for patients with a score of 0 or 1 were 68.1% and 62.8%, respectively.


Preoperative elevated NLR significantly increases the risk of recurrence in patients underwent LT for HCC. Patients with both NLR=3 and tumor number >3 are not a good indication for LT. Our score model may aid in the selection of patients that would most benefit from transplantation for HCC.