Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Although diagnostic measures and surgical interventions have improved in recent years, the five-year survival rate for patients with advanced HCC remains bleak—a reality that is largely attributable to an absence of early stage symptoms, lack of adequate diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, and the common occurrence of acquired resistance to chemotherapeutic agents during HCC treatment. A limited understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying HCC pathogenesis also presents a challenge for the development of specific and efficacious pharmacological strategies to treat, halt, or prevent progression to advanced stages. Over the past decade, aldo-keto reductase family 1 member 10 (AKR1B10) has emerged as a potential biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of HCC, and experimental studies have demonstrated roles for this enzyme in biological pathways underlying the development and progression of HCC and acquired resistance to chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of HCC. Here we provide an overview of studies supporting the diagnostic and prognostic utility of AKR1B10, summarize the experimental evidence linking AKR1B10 with HCC and the induction of chemoresistance, and discuss the clinical value of AKR1B10 as a potential target for HCC-directed drug development. We conclude that AKR1B10-based therapies in the clinical management of specific HCC subtypes warrant further investigation.
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