Chromogranin A levels in chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma

S. Massironi, M. Fraquelli, S. Paggi, A. Sangiovanni, D. Conte, V. Sciola, C. Ciafardini, M. Colombo, M. Peracchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the relevant cause of death in patients with compensated cirrhosis. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is used for screening HCC, with limited success. Aim: We evaluated plasma chromogranin A (CgA) as a marker of HCC. Patients: CgA plasma levels and AFP serum levels were prospectively measured in 30 patients with HCC, 14 with cirrhosis, 79 with chronic hepatitis and 65 controls. Methods: CgA was measured with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (DAKO A/S Glostrup, Denmark). AFP was measured by electrochemiluminoimmunoassay (Elecsys, Roche S.p.A., Italy). Results: CgA levels were significantly higher in the three groups of patients than in controls and in patients with HCC they were significantly higher than in chronic hepatitis patients [median 44.5 (interquartile range 21-145.9) U/L vs. 15.3 (10.9-29.25) U/L, p <0.001]. AFP values were above the upper reference limit in 75% of patients with HCC, 50% of cirrhotic patients and 11% of chronic hepatitis patients (p <0.005). CgA values significantly correlated with AFP levels (r s = 0.42, p <0.0001). The overall diagnostic accuracy of CgA was 75% (CI 66-82), with a sensitivity of 70% (CI 50.6-85.2) and a specificity of 67% (CI 55.9-76.3). Conclusions: Despite the evidence of higher CgA levels in patients with HCC, this test has low-diagnostic accuracy. Its pathophysiological meaning remains unknown, even if it could suggest an endocrine phenotype of HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-35
Number of pages5
JournalDigestive and Liver Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • Chromogranin A
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatology


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