Erythrina cristagalli lectin-reactive alpha-fetoprotein-E2: a marker of hepatocellular carcinoma and other malignancies

Int J Biol Markers. Jan-Mar 1998;13(1):24-9.


A newly isolated lectin Erythrina cristagalli (ECL) was tested for separation of human alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) glycoforms by affinity electrophoresis at 0.5 mg/ml and separated AFP bands were detected by antibody-affinity blotting. Three AFP bands, AFP-E1, AFP-E2 and AFP-E3 in order of increasing affinity, were obtained. Sera from control patients with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis gave a major band of AFP-E1 and a minor or trace band of AFP-E2 (3.4 +/- 2.3%), while those from patients with mostly advanced hepatocellular carcinomas had increased proportions of AFP-E2 band (16.6 +/- 10.2%). With a cutoff level of 8% (mean + 2SD of AFP-E2 for controls), the sensitivity for hepatocellular carcinoma was 72% at a specificity of 100%. Gastrointestinal tumors had much higher percentages of AFP-E2 and occasionally positive AFP-E3. Most of the yolk sac tumors examined showed AFP-E3 in addition to AFP-E2, although AFP-E3 was a minor band. Thus, AFP-E2 is potentially a clinically useful marker for differentiation of increased AFP in hepatocellular carcinoma and other malignancies from that in precancerous chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis*
  • Chromatography, Affinity
  • Densitometry
  • Electrophoresis
  • Endodermal Sinus Tumor / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Hemagglutinins* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lectins* / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Lectins*
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / chemistry
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Hemagglutinins
  • Lectins
  • Plant Lectins
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • erythrina lectin