Background: Signal regulatory protein alpha (SIRPα), expressed in the macrophage membrane, inhibits phagocytosis of tumor cells via CD47/SIRPα interaction, which acts as an immune checkpoint factor in cancers. This study aimed to clarify the clinical significance of SIRPα expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods: This study analyzed SIRPα expression using RNA sequencing data of 372 HCC tissues from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and immunohistochemical staining of our 189 HCC patient cohort. The correlation between SIRPα expression and clinicopathologic factors, patient survival, and intratumor infiltration of immune cells was investigated. Results: Overall survival (OS) was significantly poorer with high SIRPα expression than with low expression in both TCGA and our cohort. High SIRPα expression correlated with lower recurrence-free survival (RFS) in our cohort. High SIRPα expression was associated with higher rates of microvascular invasion and lower serum albumin levels and correlated with greater intratumor infiltration of CD68-positive macrophages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Multivariate analysis showed that SIRPα expression and high infiltration of CD8-positive T cells and MDSCs were predictive factors for both RFS and OS. Patients with high SIRPα expression and infiltration of CD8-positive T cells and MDSCs had significantly lower RFS and OS rates. In spatial transcriptomics sequencing, SIRPα expression was significantly correlated with CD163 expression. Conclusions: High SIRPα expression in HCC indicates poor prognosis, possibly by inhibiting macrophage phagocytosis of tumor cells, promoting MDSC infiltration and inducing antitumor immunity. Treatment alternatives using SIRPα blockage should be considered in HCC as inhibiting macrophage antitumor immunity and MDSCs.
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