Diagnostic utility of alpha‑fetoprotein and des‑gamma‑carboxyprothrombin in Nigerians with hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Akpakip Ikpong Ette
  • D.A. Ndububa
  • O. Adekanle
  • U. Ekrikpo
Keywords: Alanine aminotransferase, alpha‑fetoprotein, des‑gamma‑carboxyprothrombin, hepatitis B virus, hepatocellular carcinoma


Background: Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and Des-gamma-carboxyprothrombin (DCP) have been extensively studied as biomarkers for the diagnosis of and prognostication in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However there are only few reports on the clinical characteristics of hepatocellular carcinoma in relation to the combination of the two tumor markers in hepatitis B virus-related HCC.

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical characteristics of  HBVrelated HCC in relation to different sets of AFP and DCP values.

Methods: Sixty two patients with untreated HCC were studied. The positive value of AFP was set at 20 1U/L while DCP positive value was set at 150 mAU/ml. Patients were divided into three groups: Group 1(n=36) with AFP ≥ 20 IU/L and DCP ≥ 150 mAU/ml. Group 2(n=24) with AFP <20 1U/L and DCP ≥ 150 mAU/ml. Group 3 (n=2) with AFP < 20 1U/L and DCP < 150 mAU/ml. There were no patients in group 4 meant for those with AFP ≥ 20 1U/L and DCP < 150 mAU/ml. Clinical and  laboratory variables were compared among the groups.

Results: Clinical and laboratory variables were comparable among the groups with the exception of gender and values of serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Males were significantly more than females among the groups (p<0.03). ALT values were significantly different among the groups (p<0.006). Paired comparisons between the groups showed the mean values of serum ALT were significantly higher in group 2 than in group 1(p<0.003). The mean serum ALT values were also higher in group 2 than in group 3 (p <0.014). There was no significant difference between group 1 and group 3 (P = 0.124).

Conclusion: HCC patients who are sero-positive for DCP and seronegative for AFP have significantly higher levels of serum ALT; serum ALT levels may be of diagnostic importance in AFP-negative, HBV-related HCC patients.

Keywords: Alanine aminotransferase, alpha‑fetoprotein,  des‑gamma‑carboxyprothrombin, hepatitis B virus, hepatocellular carcinoma


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eISSN: 1119-3077