Sensitive assay for detection of hepatocellular carcinoma associated gene transcription (alpha-fetoprotein mRNA) in blood

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1995 Feb 15;207(2):813-8. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.1995.1259.


The sensitivity of RT-PCR and nested RT-PCR for detection of circulating hepatocellular carcinoma was assessed by demonstrating the tumor cell-associated gene transcription, alpha-fetoprotein mRNA, in the nuclear cells of peripheral blood. When HepG2 cells were mixed in blood, 100-1000 tumor cells/5ml of blood could be detected by RT-PCR, in contrast to 1-10 tumor cells/5ml of blood by nested RT-PCR. In addition, 2 x 10(4) copies of AFP mRNA were found in one HepG2 cell when analyzed by the quantitative nested RT-PCR assay. Thus, the nested RT-PCR assay could provide a useful tool for detecting a tiny amount of circulating tumor cells in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma presenting extra-hepatic metastasis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / blood*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA Primers
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / blood*
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / biosynthesis*


  • DNA Primers
  • RNA, Messenger
  • alpha-Fetoproteins