Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 Dec;93(12):2452-6.

Serum alpha-fetoprotein levels and liver histology in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Author information

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan 48073, USA.



The clinical and morphological significance of a raised alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) level in patients with chronic hepatitis C is undefined. We sought to determine the relation between serum AFP level and liver histology in this population.


We reviewed the clinical and histological records of 200 consecutively evaluated patients with chronic hepatitis C whose serum AFP levels were recorded. Two groups were studied: group I = 125/200 (62%) patients with normal AFP, < 10 ng/ml; and group II = 75/200 (38%) patients with raised AFP, > 10 ng/ml. The groups were compared according to age, gender, duration of disease, histology, and history of alcohol abuse.


There was no significant difference in serum AFP based on age, gender, alcohol consumption, or disease duration. Significant histological differences were observed: cirrhosis was present in 57 (45%) patients in group I versus 51 (68%) in group II (p < 0.001). Hepatocellular carcinoma was more frequent in group II (14/75 [19%]) than in group I (1/125 [1%]) (p < 0.001). Ten of 77 (13%) noncirrhotic patients and 51/108 (47%) cirrhotic patients had a raised AFP (p < 0.002; relative risk, 3.262; confidence interval [C.I.], 1.912-5.564). A derived AFP level of 17.8 ng/ml maximized specificity for predicting histological outcome: one of 76 (1.3%), 29/108 (26.8%), and 14/15 (93.3%) patients were noncirrhotic, cirrhotic, or had HCC, respectively. This derived AFP value is 35% sensitive and 98.6% specific for cirrhosis, with a positive predictive value of 97.7%.


A serum AFP level >17.8 ng/ml strongly suggests the diagnosis of cirrhosis in a population of patients with chronic hepatitis C.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group
    Loading ...
    Support Center