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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Journal of Medical Microbiology & Diagnosis

Volume 3, Issue 1, April 2014, Pages 1-6.

The published version is available at DOI: 0.4172/2161-0703.1000130. Copyright © 2014 Hann HW, et al.


Background and aims: Early detection of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is crucial for effective management. Incidence of HCC has increased in the United States largely attributed to hepatitis B and C virus. Lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP-L3) and Des-Gamma-Carboxy Prothrombin (DCP) are being recognized specific biomarkers for HCC.

Methods: We measured AFP-L3 and DCP in serial serum specimens of a cohort of chronic hepatitis patients on HCC surveillance and compared these markers to abdominal imaging. Among fifty patients who developed HCC during surveillance, 30 were included in the study with available sera 1-2 years before, at diagnosis and post ablation of HCC. For controls, three consecutive annual sera were examined from 106 chronic hepatitis patients without HCC during surveillance for 5-10 years. The μTASWako i30 auto analyzer was used for the assay that utilizes the microfluidics chip based assay platform. It can fractionate AFP-L3 glycoform and calculates AFP-L3% if AFP level is ≥ 0.6 ng/mL.

Results: Combination of AFP, AFP-L3 and DCP showed high sensitivity of 83% in all patients and 75% in patients with AFP<20 ng/mL. AFP-L3 and DCP assays were useful in patients with low levels of AFP (<20 ng/mL) and could detect significant AFP-L3% elevation in some patients more than one year before the diagnosis of HCC. Furthermore, AFP-L3 predicted recurrence of HCC.

Conclusions: This is the first study in the U.S. patients using the μTASWako i30 analyzer to test these HCC biomarkers. Our results suggest that combinations of these biomarkers are highly useful for early detection of HCC.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.