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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e39466. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039466. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Cancer-associated carbohydrate antigens as potential biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma.

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The PhD Program for Cancer Biology and Drug Discovery, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common human malignancies. Therefore, developing the early, high-sensitivity diagnostic biomarkers to prevent HCC is urgently needed. Serum a-fetoprotein (AFP), the clinical biomarker in current use, is elevated in only ~60% of patients with HCC; therefore, identification of additional biomarkers is expected to have a significant impact on public health. In this study, we used glycan microarray analysis to explore the potential diagnostic value of several cancer-associated carbohydrate antigens (CACAs) as biomarkers for HCC. We used glycan microarray analysis with 58 different glycan analogs for quantitative comparison of 593 human serum samples (293 HCC samples; 133 chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection samples, 134 chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection samples, and 33 healthy donor samples) to explore the diagnostic possibility of serum antibody changes as biomarkers for HCC. Serum concentrations of anti-disialosyl galactosyl globoside (DSGG), anti-fucosyl GM1 and anti-Gb2 were significantly higher in patients with HCC than in chronic HBV infection individuals not in chronic HCV infection patients. Overall, in our study population, the biomarker candidates DSGG, fucosyl GM1 and Gb2 of CACAs achieved better predictive sensitivity than AFP. We identified potential biomarkers suitable for early detection of HCC. Glycan microarray analysis provides a powerful tool for high-sensitivity and high-throughput detection of serum antibodies against CACAs, which may be valuable serum biomarkers for the early detection of persons at high risk for HCC.

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