, Volume 55, Issue 10, pp 2744-2755
Date: 26 Mar 2010

Serum Markers of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

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Abstract

Background

The hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most common malignant tumors and carries a poor survival rate. The management of patients at risk for developing HCC remains intricate.

Methods

A literature search identified potential markers for hepatocellular carcinoma. These markers were analysed and justification was provided for these factors’ inclusion to (or exclusion from) the markers of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). A search of the literature was made using cancer literature and the PubMed database for the following keywords: “markers and HCC,” “Lens culinaris agglutinin reactive AFP (AFP-L3) and HCC,” “Des-γ-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) and HCC,” “Glypican-3 and HCC,” “Chromogranin A and HCC,” “Transforming growth factor β1(TGF) and HCC,” “α-l-fucosidase (AFU) and HCC,” “Golgi protein-73 (GP73) and HCC,” “Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and HCC,” “Nervous growth factor (NGF) and HCC.”

Conclusions

Despite the large number of studies devoted to the immunohistochemistry of HCC, at the present time, the absolute positive and negative markers for HCC are still lacking, and even those characterized by very high sensitivity and specificity do not have an universal diagnostic usefulness. Given the poor response to current therapies, a better understanding of the molecular pathways active in this disease could potentially provide new targets for therapy. However, AFP shows a low sensitivity, therefore other biomarkers have been developed to make an early diagnosis and improve patients’ prognosis.