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Hepatol Res. 2002 Aug;23(4):287.

The fucosylation index of serum alpha-fetoprotein as useful prognostic factor in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma in special reference to chronological changes.

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Division of Hepatobiliary Oncology, Department of Cellular Function, Department of Molecular Genetics, Course for Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Niigata University, 757 Asahimachi Dori-1-Bancho, 951-8122, Niigata, Japan


Aim of this study was to establish fucosylation index (FI) of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) before and after initial treatment as a useful prognostic factor in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). One hundred ninety-seven patients with HCC from 1990 to 2000, in whom an increment of serum AFP concentrations more than 30 ng/ml was observed before treatment, were examined in the present study. Enrolled patients with HCC underwent transcatheter arterial embolization, chemoembolization, percutaneous ethanol injection and/or percutaneous microwave coagulation therapy. The current patients status was confirmed as of the end of March 2001. FI was determined by crossed immunoaffinoelectrophoresis in the presence of Lens culinaris agglutinin (LCA). FI of AFP was defined as the percentage of the LCA-reactive species in total AFP (same as L3 fraction). When the tentative discriminating line of FI was set at 18%, the mean survival rate in the HCC group, whose FI-1 (before treatment) was higher than 18% (high FI), was significantly lower than that in another HCC group, whose FI-1 was equal to or less than 18% (low FI) by the generalized Wilcoxon test and the log rank test (P<0.0001). There were statistical significant differences of survival rate when FI-2 (2 months after treatment) and FI-3 (at the time of HCC recurrence or 2 years after treatment in the case of no recurrence) were introduced in the same analysis. Additionally, statistical significant differences of survival rates were obtained between HCC groups with high and low FI-1 when the patient stage was limited to II, III, IVA or IVB. The HCC group, FI-1, FI-2 and FI-3 of which were persistently equal to or less than 18%, showed considerably better prognosis than the group, whose FI-1, FI-2 and FI-3 were persistently higher than 18%. The univariate analysis in the prognostic factor by the Cox's proportional hazards model showed that FI-1, FI-2 and FI-3 were independent prognostic factors. The present study indicates that measuring FI from the sera before and after the treatment serves as a new prognostic indicator and may improve prognostic estimates and appraisal of therapeutic outcome in patients with HCC.


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