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Int J Oncol. 2001 Mar;18(3):527-32.

Clinical application of quantitative analysis for detection of hematogenous spread of hepatocellular carcinoma by real-time PCR.

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Department of Surgery and Clinical Oncology, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.


In order to detect a hematogenous spread of tumor cells in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay has been used. In this study, we quantified alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) messenger RNA by real-time PCR approach using LightCyclertrade mark technique. AFP messenger RNA in the blood from 23 hepatocellular carcinoma patients undergoing hepatic resection, 31 healthy volunteers, 10 patients with liver cirrhosis and 5 patients underwent hepatectomy except for hepatocellular carcinoma was quantitated. In the real-time PCR, fluorescence was undetectable in any of the controls. On the contrary, fluorescent signals were detected in 10 out of 39 blood specimens collected from 23 HCC patients. AFP-positive status was significantly associated with the existence of multiple intrahepatic nodules. Out of 8 cases with AFP-positive status, intra- and/or extra-hepatic recurrence has been observed in 3 cases. The quantities of AFP messenger RNA in these 3 cases were relatively high among 8 cases with AFP-positive status. AFP messenger RNA was detectable by newly developed real-time PCR approach with LightCycler and it is suggested that this approach could be applicable in detection of small amounts of tumor cells in the blood of HCC patients.

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