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Gastroenterology. 1997 Feb;112(2):493-500.

Telomerase activity and telomere length in hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic liver disease.

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First Department of Medicine, Chiba University School of Medicine, Japan.



The maintenance of the telomere to a certain length is considered to be vital for cellular immortality. Recently, the presence of telomerase, an enzyme that elongates telomere length, was reported in various malignancies. The aim of this study was to characterize telomerase activity and telomere length in hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic liver diseases to facilitate better understanding and more accurate diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma.


In tumorous and nontumorous tissues from 26 hepatocellular carcinomas and from 20 liver tissues without overt hepatocellular carcinoma, telomerase activity was examined by telomeric repeat amplification protocol and telomere length was detected by Southern blot hybridization method.


Telomerase activity was detected in 22 of 26 (85%) hepatocellular carcinoma specimens. In contrast, it was weakly detected in 4 of 46 (9%) nonneoplastic tissues. Telomere length in hepatocellular carcinoma was shorter than that of corresponding nontumorous tissue in 44% and longer in 17%.


The presence of telomerase activity was confirmed in a majority of cases with hepatocellular carcinoma, and alteration of telomere length from nonneoplastic tissue was observed in approximately two thirds of hepatocellular carcinomas. Therefore, these markers might be good indicators for the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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