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Mol Cancer. 2010 Aug 12;9:215. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-9-215.

Serum N-glycome biomarker for monitoring development of DENA-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in rat.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, Eastern Hepatobiliary Hospital, Second Military Medical University, 200438 Shanghai, China.



There is a demand for serum markers for the routine assessment of the progression of liver cancer. We previously found that serum N-linked sugar chains are altered in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we studied glycomic alterations during development of HCC in a rat model.


Rat HCC was induced by the hepatocarcinogen, diethylnitrosamine (DENA). N-glycans were profiled using the DSA-FACE technique developed in our laboratory.In comparison with control rats, DENA rats showed a gradual but significant increase in two glycans (R5a and R5b) in serum total N-glycans during progression of liver cirrhosis and cancer, and a decrease in a biantennary glycan (P5). The log of the ratio of R5a to P1 (NGA2F) and R5b to P1 [log(R5a/P1) and log(R5b/P1)] were significantly (p < 0.0001) elevated in HCC rats, but not in rats with cirrhosis or fibrosis or in control rats. We thus propose a GlycoTest model using the above-mentioned serum glycan markers to monitor the progression of cirrhosis and HCC in the DENA-treated rat model. When DENA-treated rats were subsequently treated with farnesylthiosalicyclic acid, an anticancer drug, progression to HCC was prevented and GlycoTest markers (P5, R5a and R5b) reverted towards non-DENA levels, and the HCC-specific markers, log(R5a/P1) and log(R5b/P1), normalized completely.


We found an increase in core-alpha-1,6-fucosylated glycoproteins in serum and liver of rats with HCC, which demonstrates that fucosylation is altered during progression of HCC. Our GlycoTest model can be used to monitor progression of HCC and to follow up treatment of liver tumors in the DENA rat. This GlycoTest model is particularly important because a rapid non-invasive diagnostic procedure for tumour progression in this rat model would greatly facilitate the search for anticancer drugs.

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