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TEMs but not DKK1 could serve as complementary biomarkers for AFP in diagnosing AFP-negative hepatocellular carcinoma.

TEMs but not DKK1 could serve as complementary biomarkers for AFP in diagnosing AFP-negative hepatocellular carcinoma.
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Mao L, Wang Y, Wang D, Han G, Fu S, Wang J,


Mao L, Wang Y, Wang D, Han G, Fu S, Wang J, (click to view)

Mao L, Wang Y, Wang D, Han G, Fu S, Wang J,

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PloS one 2017 09 1312(9) e0183880 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0183880
Abstract
BACKGROUND & AIMS
Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is prevalent worldwide. Despite its limitations, serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) remains the most widely-used biomarker for the diagnosis of HCC. This study aimed to assess whether measurement of peripheral plasma Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) and Tie2-expressing monocytes (TEMs) could overcome the limitations of AFP and improve the diagnostic accuracy of HCC.

METHODS
Plasma DKK1 level and the percentage of TEMs in peripheral CD14+CD16+ monocytes from HCC patients (n = 82), HBV-related liver cirrhosis (LC) patients (n = 29), chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infected patients (n = 28) and healthy volunteers (n = 31) were analyzed by ELISA and flow cytometry. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to analyze a single biomarker, or a combination of two or three biomarkers. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to assess the significance of each marker in prediction of HCC and AFP-negative HCC from LC patients.

RESULTS
The percentage of TEMs in peripheral CD14+CD16+ monocytes and plasma level of DKK1 in HCC group were significantly higher than those in LC, CHB and healthy control groups (all P-values <0.05). The percentage of TEMs alone was also significantly higher in AFP-negative HCC group than that in LC, CHB and healthy control groups (all P-values <0.05). Plasma DKK1 level alone could not distinguish between AFP-negative HCC and LC patients. ROC curves showed that the optimal diagnostic cutoff value was 550.93 ng/L for DKK1 and 4.95% for TEMs. There was no significant difference in AUC of DKK1, TEMs and AFP in HCC diagnosis between the four groups (all P>0.05). A combination of DKK1, TEMs and AFP measurements increased the AUC for HCC diagnosis as compared with either marker alone (0.833; 95%CI 0.768-0.886). The AUC for TEMs was 0.692 (95% CI 0.564-0.819) in differentiating AFP-negative HCC from LC, with a sensitivity of 80.0% and a specificity of 65.52%. Only TEMs prevailed as a significant predictor for AFP-negative HCC differentiating from LC patients in univariate and multivariate analyses (P = 0.016, P = 0.023).

CONCLUSIONS
TEMs and DKK1 may prove to be potential complementary biomarkers for AFP in the diagnosis of HCC. TEMs rather than DKK1 could serve as a complementary biomarker for AFP in the differential diagnosis of AFP-negative HCC versus LC patients.

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