Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab

Alpha-Fetoprotein Diagnostics

  • David E. Kaplan
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_207-2



Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a 68.7 kDa plasma protein synthesized primarily by the fetal liver and embryonic yolk sac that is highly homologous with human albumin. Widely expressed in the fetal liver, AFP mRNA is down-regulated in postnatal hepatocytes. Serum AFP levels are used clinically for detection, confirmation, and follow-up of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and nonseminomatous germ cell tumors, although lack of sensitivity and specificity complicate its use.


Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a 590 amino-acid plasma protein that shares 40 % amino acid and 40–44 % nucleotide sequence homology with human serum albumin and is a member of the albumin gene superfamily. The AFP gene covers approximately 22 kB of DNA and has 15 exons and 14...


Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma Trail Receptor Nonseminomatous Germ Cell Tumor Albumin Gene Mixed Germ Cell Tumor 
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See Also

  1. (2012) Germ cell tumors. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, p 1541. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_6905Google Scholar
  2. (2012) P53. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, p 2747X. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_4331Google Scholar
  3. (2012) TGF–ß. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, p 3661. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_5753Google Scholar
  4. Möslein G (2009) Colon cancer. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of cancer, 2nd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp 722–727. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-47648-1_1265Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of GastroenterologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA