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06.04.2018 | Original Research

Significance of Glypican-3 in Early Detection of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Cirrhotic Patients

Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer
Ahmed M. Tahon, Magdy Z. El-Ghanam, Samy Zaky, Tarek Mostafa Emran, Ali M. Bersy, Fathiya El-Raey, Elsayed A.Z., Amr M. El Kharsawy, Dina Johar
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12029-018-0095-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Egypt has high incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This is due to wide spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection which is responsible for most of the cases of liver cirrhosis. The major diagnostic techniques for HCC include serum markers and various imaging modalities. Glypican 3 (GPC3) protein is highly expressed in HCC, but not in normal liver tissue. The significance of GPC3 as a predictor or diagnostic tool for human tumors other than HCC is unclear.


To quantitatively assess the role of GPC3 in diagnosis of HCC in comparison to α-fetoprotein (AFP), ultrasonography (US), and computerized tomography (CT).

Patients and Methods

This cross-sectional study enrolled 85 subjects: 40 cirrhotic patients with primary HCC, 30 cirrhotic patients without HCC, and 15 healthy individuals. All patients were recruited from the Gastroenterology and Tropical Departments and outpatient clinics of New Damietta Hospital during the period from November 2010 to August 2012.


GPC3 is positive in some HCC patients with normal levels of AFP. AFP has lower sensitivity (67.5%) compared to higher sensitivity of GPC3 (82.5%), and near specificity (61.2%) to GPC3 (57.8%).

Conclusion and Significance

The combined serum AFP and GPC3 significantly increased the sensitivity of HCC diagnosis. Although GPC3 is better than AFP in diagnosis of HCC, it still lacks the 100% sensitivity and specificity because some patients have negative or normal level of GPC3 (below the cutoff point 1.5 ng/ml) despite being diagnosed by triphasic CT.

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