Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(13):3026-3038. doi:10.7150/ijms.60261 This issue

Research Paper

The underlying molecular mechanism and drugs for treatment in adrenal cortical carcinoma

Chengquan Ma, Jian Xiong, Hao Su, Hongjun Li

Department of Urology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.

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Ma C, Xiong J, Su H, Li H. The underlying molecular mechanism and drugs for treatment in adrenal cortical carcinoma. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(13):3026-3038. doi:10.7150/ijms.60261. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Purpose: The study aimed to predict and explore the possible clinical value and mechanism of genetic markers in adrenal cortical carcinoma using a bioinformatics analysis method.

Methods: The RNA-seqs and miRNAs data were downloaded from TCGA database to identify the differentially expressed genes and differentially expressed miRNAs. The hub-genes were screened by building protein-protein interaction sub-networks with 12 topological analysis methods. We conducted the receiver operating characteristic curve to elevate the diagnostic value of hub-genes in distinguishing the death and alive groups. The survival analysis of hub-genes and key miRNAs were conducted using Kaplan-Meier curves. Furthermore, most significant small molecules were identified as therapeutic candidates for adrenal cortical carcinoma by the CMap analysis.

Results: Compared to survival group, we found 475 up-regulated genes and 354 genes and the key pathways leading to the death of different ACC individual patients. Then we used 12 topological analysis methods to found the most possible 22 hub-genes. Among these hub-genes, nine hub-genes (C3, CXCL5, CX3CR1, GRM8, HCAR2, HTR1B, SUCNR1, PTGER3 and SSTR1) could be used to distinguish the death and survival groups for patients. We also revealed that mRNA expressions of 12 genes (C3, CXCL8, CX3CR1, GNAT3, GNGT1, GRM8, HCAR2, HTR1B, HTR1D, PTGER3, SSTR1 and SUCNR1) and four key miRNAs (hsa-mir-330, hsa-mir-489, hsa-mir-508 and hsa-mir-513b) were related to survival. Three most small molecules were identified (H-9, AZ-628 and phensuximide) as potential therapeutic drugs for adrenal cortical carcinoma.

Conclusion: The hub-genes expression was significant useful in adrenal cortical carcinoma, provide new diagnostic, prognosis and therapeutic approaches for adrenal cortical carcinoma. Furthermore, we also explore the possible miRNAs involved in regulation of hub-genes.

Keywords: adrenal cortical carcinoma, biomarkers, prognosis, treatment