Alpha fetoprotein (AFP) is a normal constituent of fetal serum which attains maximum concentration at approximately 13 weeks of gestation. This protein disappears gradually by the time of birth. However, recently, it has been detected in trace amounts by radioimmunologic method in normal adults sera too. Measurable amounts of AFP are found by immunoprecipitation techniques in approximately 50% of patients with primary liver cancer and in few cases of gonadal teratoma, gastric carcinoma and metastatic cancer in liver. AFP is therefore a tumor antigen mainly associated with hepatocellular carcinoma. Its detection is a helpful diagnostic tool. Physico-chemical and biological properties of AFP are reviewed and electrophoretic and immunologic techniques for its investigation are described.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Biochemistry