Alpha-fetoprotein and other tumour-associated antigens for immunotherapy of hepatocellular cancer

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2008 Mar;8(3):325-36. doi: 10.1517/14712598.8.3.325.


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer death, with few treatment options for advanced disease.

Objectives: Here, we review the aetiology of HCC and focus on recent data on tumour-associated antigens (TAA) for HCC, their functions and potential use as immunological targets for immune-based therapy for HCC. In addition, we examine some aspects of antigen presentation within the liver.

Results/conclusions: alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) has been investigated for many years as a TAA, and has been tested in recent clinical trials. More recently, additional TAA have been identified and new therapeutic approaches have been investigated which may be testable clinically in this difficult disease setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / administration & dosage
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Active / methods*
  • Immunotherapy, Active / trends
  • Liver Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / administration & dosage*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / immunology*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / metabolism


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • alpha-Fetoproteins