Despite advances in our cellular and molecular knowledge, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains one of the major public health problems throughout the world. It is now known to be highly heterogeneous: it encompasses various pathological entities and a wide range of clinical behaviors, and is underpinned by a complex array of gene alterations that affect supra-molecular processes. Four families of HCC tumour markers have been recently proposed: a) onco-fetal and glycoprotein antigens; b) enzymes and iso-enzymes; c) cytokines and d) genes. A category of tumour-associated antigens called cancer-testis (CT) antigens has been identified and their encoding genes have been extensively investigated. CT antigens are expressed in a limited number of normal tissues as well as in malignant tumors of unrelated histological origin, including the liver. Given that cancers are being recognized as increasingly complex, we here review the role of CT antigens as liver tumour biomarkers and their validation process, and discuss why they may improve the effectiveness of screening HCC patients and help in determining the risk of developing HCC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)