Department of Immunology, Medical School of Nantong University, Nantong 226001, China.
The prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is poor and its early diagnosis is of the utmost importance. This study aimed to investigate the values of glypican-3 (GPC-3) expression in the liver and sera and its gene transcription for diagnosis and monitoring of metastasis of HCC.
Liver GPC-3 was analyzed in HCC tissues from 36 patients by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. GPC-3 mRNA from circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 123 HCC patients or 246 patients with other diseases or 36 HCC tissues was amplified by RT-PCR, quantitative real-time PCR, and confirmed by DNA sequencing. Circulating GPC-3 level was detected by ELISA.
The increasing expression of GPC-3 was observed from non-cancerous to cancerous tissues, with brown granule-like staining localized in tumor parts of atypical hyperplasia and HCC formation. The positive rate of GPC-3 was 80.6% in HCC, 41.7% in their paracancerous tissues, and none in distal cancerous tissues (P<0.001), with no significant difference in differentiation grade and tumor number except for size (Z=2.941, P=0.003). Serum GPC-3 was detected only in HCC (52.8%) and significant difference was found between GPC-3 and tumor size (X2=6.318, P=0.012) or HBV infection (X2=23.362, P<0.001). Circulating GPC-3 mRNA was detected in 70.7% of HCC tissues, with relation to TNM stage, periportal cancerous embolus, and extra-hepatic metastasis (P<0.001). The combination of circulating GPC-3, GPC-3 mRNA and alpha-fetoprotein is of complementary value for HCC diagnosis (94.3%).
Both GPC-3 overexpression and GPC-3 mRNA abnormality could be used as markers for the diagnosis of HCC and monitoring its metastasis.