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Gastroenterology. 1990 Aug;99(2):508-18.

Lectin-reactive profiles of alpha-fetoprotein characterizing hepatocellular carcinoma and related conditions.

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Health Research Center, Kagawa University, Takamatsu, Japan.


Serum alpha-fetoprotein from 146 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, other malignancies, and benign liver diseases, was fractionated by lectin-affinity electrophoresis coupled with our sensitive detection method of antibody-affinity blotting. Compared with chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma was characterized by the increase in proportions of lentil lectin A-reactive alpha-fetoprotein-L3 and erythroagglutinating phytohemagglutinin-reactive alpha-fetoprotein-P4; the yolk sac tumor was characterized by the increase of concanavalin A-nonreactive alpha-fetoprotein-C1, lentil lectin-A-weakly reactive alpha-fetoprotein-L2, erythroagglutinating phytohemagglutinin-strongly reactive alpha-fetoprotein-P5, and Allomyrina dichotoma lectin-nonreactive, slow-migrating alpha-fetoprotein-Als; and gastrointestinal tumors were characterized by alpha-fetoprotein-C1, alpha-fetoprotein-L2, alpha-fetoprotein-L3, alpha-fetoprotein-P5 and Allomyrina dichotoma-nonreactive alpha-fetoprotein-A1. By combined evaluation of alpha-fetoprotein-L3 and alpha-fetoprotein-P4, hepatocellular carcinoma was discriminated from chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis with a sensitivity of 97% at a specificity of 99.7%. Because the alpha-fetoprotein level of the studied cases ranged from 60-1,500,000 ng/mL (60-1,500,000 micrograms/L), mostly greater than 200 ng/mL (200 micrograms/L), additional patients with lower levels of alpha-fetoprotein [16-177 ng/mL (16-177 micrograms/L) for 16 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma with liver cirrhosis and 28-185 ng/mL (28-185 micrograms/L) for 17 cases of liver cirrhosis alone] were analyzed for alpha-fetoprotein-L3 and alpha-fetoprotein-P4. The resulting sensitivity for combined evaluation was still as high as 88% at the same high specificity of 99.7%, indicating that the simultaneous analysis of alpha-fetoprotein-L3 and alpha-fetoprotein-P4 is effective in monitoring the evolution of hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhotic patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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