To identify genetic susceptibility loci for hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the Chinese population, we carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 2,514 chronic HBV carriers (1,161 HCC cases and 1,353 controls) followed by a 2-stage validation among 6 independent populations of chronic HBV carriers (4,319 cases and 4,966 controls). The joint analyses showed that HCC risk was significantly associated with two independent loci: rs7574865 at STAT4, P meta = 2.48 × 10 -10, odds ratio (OR) = 1.21; and rs9275319 at HLA-DQ, P meta = 2.72 × 10 -17, OR = 1.49. The risk allele G at rs7574865 was significantly associated with lower mRNA levels of STAT4 in both the HCC tissues and nontumor tissues of 155 individuals with HBV-related HCC (P trend = 0.0008 and 0.0002, respectively). We also found significantly lower mRNA expression of STAT4 in HCC tumor tissues compared with paired adjacent nontumor tissues (P = 2.33 × 10 -14).
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