Development of a novel assay to quantify serum human telomerase reverse transcriptase messenger RNA and its significance as a tumor marker for hepatocellular carcinoma.Oncology. 2007; 72 Suppl 1:45-51.O
Currently available tumor markers for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive AFP (AFP-L3), and Des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP). However, their positive rate can not surpass abdominal ultrasonography (US) as modalities to detect small HCC at early stage, resulting in a possible delay of its diagnosis. There is a need to develop an additional sensitive marker to improve the early detection of HCC. We here introduced a newly developed quantitative detection method for serum hTERT mRNA, which has a clinical significance in HCC diagnosis. Briefly, we examined its sensitivity and specificity in HCC diagnosis, clinical significance in comparison with other tumor markers, and its correlations with the clinical parameters. Serum hTERT mRNA showed higher values in patients with HCC than those with chronic liver diseases. hTERT mRNA expression independently correlated with clinical parameters such as differentiation degree (p < 0.001). The sensitivity/specificity of hTERT mRNA in HCC diagnosis showed 88.2/70.0%. hTERT mRNA proved to be expectedly superior to AFP mRNA , AFP and DCP in HCC diagnosis. Importantly, hTERT mRNA in serum correlated with that in HCC tissue. Thus, we report that serum hTERT mRNA is a novel and available marker for HCC diagnosis.