The significance of serum levels of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in early screening of hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhotic patients was evaluated. The effect of diabetes on GAGs and IGF-1 levels was also estimated. Fifty cirrhotic patients with early stage Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (22 were diabetic), thirty control cirrhotic patients without HCC (11 were diabetic) and twenty normal control subjects, were enrolled to the study. Serum α-fetoprotein (AFP), the commonly used marker for HCC, was measured in all HCC patients. Serum GAGs increased significantly, while IGF-1 was reduced in patients with cirrhosis and early stage HCC compared to normal control (P < 0.001). There was a significant reduction in GAGs and IGF-1 levels in control cirrhotic group compared to HCC group (P < 0.05). HCC patients who had normal AFP showed significantly increased GAGs and reduced IGF-1 levels compared to normal control. In comparison with corresponding non-diabetic patients, diabetic patients showed a significant increase in serum GAGs in both cirrhotic control and HCC (P < 0.01), while a significant decrease was observed in serum IGF-1 only in HCC (P < 0.05). Concomitant determination and monitoring of serum GAGs and IGF-1 could be used as a simple, low cost and non-invasive marker for HCC in cirrhotic patients.
Key words: Hepatocelluar carcinoma, liver cirrhosis, alpha fetoprotein, glycosaminoglycans, insulin like growth factor-1.
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