Selenium, iron, copper, and zinc levels and copper-to-zinc ratios in serum of patients at different stages of viral hepatic diseases.Biol Trace Elem Res 2006; 109(1):15-24BT
Viral hepatic diseases, especially those induced by the hepatitis B virus, can progress into more serious pathological outcomes and eventually to hepatocellular carcinoma. A growing body of evidence indicates that many trace elements play important roles in a number of carcinogenic processes that proceed through various mechanisms. To examine the status of trace elements during the development of hepatic carcinoma, we determined the selenium, iron, copper, and zinc levels and copper-to-zinc ratios in the serum of patients at different stages of viral hepatic disease. We observed significant changes in the selenium, iron, copper, and zinc levels in the serum of patients having hepatocellular carcinoma, relative to those of healthy controls (p < 0.05). The mean serum copper level in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma was significantly higher than that of the control group. In contrast, the mean selenium, iron, and zinc levels in patients having hepatocellular carcinoma were significantly lower than those of the control group. In addition, the mean zinc level in the serum of patients with hepatic cirrhosis was significantly lower than that of the control group (p < 0.05). Moreover, we found markedly elevated Cu: Zn ratios (p < 0.05) in patients having hepatic cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. Our findings imply that the levels of some trace elements, such as selenium, iron, copper, and zinc, and Cu: Zn ratios, might serve as biomarkers for the increased severity of viral hepatic damage.