Document Type : Research Articles
Department of Clinical Pathology, NCI, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt.
Objectives: Epithelial cell adhesion molecule [EpCAM] is a surface marker of cancer stem cells that can maintain the capacity for malignant proliferation, invasion, metastasis, and tumor recurrence; hence its detection among hepatocellular carcinoma [HCC] patients may be an important prognostic factor. The aim of this study was to detect EpCAM mRNA expression in the whole blood of HCC patients and normal control subjects to elucidate its clinico-pathological significance among patients with HCC. Methods: This study was conducted on 74 newly diagnosed HCC patients and forty normal control subjects. Both groups were subjected to the detection of EpCAM mRNA in the whole blood using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction [RT- PCR] technique. EpCAM expression was compared with some of the established prognostic factors of HCC. Results: EpCAM was detected in 17.5% of the HCC cases and was not expressed in any of the normal control subjects. EpCAM positive cases showed higher serum levels of alpha- feto protein [AFP] and carcinoembryonic antigen [CEA]. Prevalence of EpCAM positivity gave significant results with distant metastasis, lymph node metastasis, and portal vein thrombosis. Conclusion: EpCAM proved high specificity among HCC patients and its expression was associated with metastasis and portal vein thrombosis. Higher serum levels of CEA among the EpCAM positive patients may attract the attention to a subgroup of HCC patients who are more liable to develop metastasis.