Serial serum AFP heterogeneity changes in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma during chemotherapy.
Buamah PK., Cornell C., James OF., Skillen AW., Harris AL.
Serum alpha fetoprotein (AFP) is heterogeneous, one form binding to the lectin concanavalin A (conA) and the other not. The relative amounts, of the two forms in the serum of patients has diagnostic applications in differentiating between primary hepato-cellular carcinoma and metastatic liver disease. In 36 patients with primary hepatocellular carcinoma, the conA-nonreactive form of AFP comprised less than 20% of the total (range 1.6%-19.2%; median 8.7%), whereas in 13 patients with metastatic liver disease the conA-nonreactive form comprised more than 20% of the total (range 26.6%-91.7%; median 57.6%). Four patients with primary hepatocellular carcinoma were treated with CB3717, and serial changes in the serum AFP characteristics were examined. In two patients in whom the total serum AFP concentration fell, the percentage of the conA-nonreactive fraction, initially less than 20% rose steadily. In two other patients the total serum AFP did not fall significantly and the proportion of the conA-nonreactive fraction remained below 20%.