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Diagnostic utility of glypican-3 for hepatocellular carcinoma on liver needle biopsy


Aims Glypican 3 (GPC3) is a heparan sulphate proteoglycan that shows elevated levels in the serum of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but not in healthy blood donors or patients with benign liver disease. This study explores the value of GPC3 expression for diagnosis of HCC by immunohistochemistry in liver needle biopsy specimens.

Methods Archival material of liver needle biopsies from 54 patients with HCC, nine with focal nodular hyperplasia or focal liver cell dysplasia, five with cirrhosis, seven with hepatitis B or unremarkable liver tissue, seven with cholangiocarcinoma, and 30 with metastatic tumours, was retrieved for immunohistochemical staining with GPC3 antibody and appropriate positive and negative controls.

Results Forty-five out of 54 cases of HCC showed positive GPC3 staining (83.4%). In contrast, all 58 non-HCC cases of liver biopsies, including focal nodular hyperplasia, focal liver cell dysplasia, cirrhosis, hepatitis B or unremarkable liver tissue, cholangiocarcinoma and metastatic tumours, were negative for GPC3. The sensitivity and specificity of GPC3 in HCCs were 83.4% and 100%, respectively.

Conclusions GPC3 is a valuable diagnostic marker for diagnosing HCC on liver needle biopsy. It can be used to distinguish HCC from other benign hepatic conditions and metastatic tumours in the liver.

  • Glypican-3
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • immunohistochemistry
  • liver disease
  • liver needle biopsy

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