Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System/UCLA

Project title: “lipid signaling network in the regulation of hepatocellular carcinogenesis through YAP/TAZ activity”

Enrique J Rozengurt, PhD- UCLA/VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Joseph R Pisegna, MD- UCLA/VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Thomas Vallim, PhD- UCLA Health Sciences
Vatche Agopian, MD-UCLA

Multidisciplinary expertise:
Cancer biology, lipid metabolism, signal transduction, transcriptomics, chemoprevention

Project description:
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has reached pandemic proportions. One of its most consequential complications, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is also on the rise and predicted to become the leading indication for liver transplantation. As liver transplantation remains a scarce resource, especially in NAFLD-related HCCs where patients tend to present sicker, early detection and chemoprevention are imperative. Statins have been associated in large, retrospective, observational studies to decrease the incidence of HCC, however their mechanism(s) of action remains elusive. In this proposal, we aim to study the interplay between lipids, statins, Rho GTPases and the YAP/TAZ oncogenic pathway in hepatocarcinogenesis, which has recently been implicated in HCC. Our findings have the potential to identify novel chemo-preventative methods, especially in light of ongoing randomized controlled trials assessing statin benefits in patients with cirrhosis to prevent cirrhosis complications and HCC development.