Author(s): Li D, Mallory T, Satomura S
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) displays differential affinity to lectin Lens culinaris agglutinin (LCA) compared to that from chronic hepatitis/liver cirrhosis. According to their binding capability to LCA, total AFP can be separated into three different glycoforms, AFP-L1, AFP-L2, and AFP-L3. AFP-L1 is the non-LCA-bound fraction, which constitutes the major glycoform of AFP in serum of chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. AFP-L3 is the LCA-bound fraction of AFP. It has been reported that malignant liver cells produce AFP-L3, even when HCC is at its early stages, and especially when the tumor mass is supplied by the hepatic artery. Clinical research has determined that AFP-L3 is a highly specific marker for HCC. The AFP-L3 can be detected in the serum of approximately 35\% of the patients with small HCC (<2 cm). The AFP-L3-positive HCC has potential for rapid growth and early metastasis. Compared to imaging techniques, it has been shown to have 9-12 months of lead-time in early HCC recognition. Combined sensitivity of AFP-L3 for HCC is 56\%, with a specificity of >95\%. METHODS: Automated assay for measuring AFP-L3 has been developed and introduced in clinical use. The new automated method for measurement of ALP-L3 is based on liquid phase binding of the AFP-L3 glycoform with LCA and two specific monoclonal antibodies labeled with peroxidase and polysulfated tyrosine peptide, respectively. CONCLUSION: AFP-L3 is a new generation of tumor marker for HCC and yields useful information on HCC for clinical decision making.
This article was published in Clin Chim Acta
and referenced in Journal of Glycomics & Lipidomics