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The use of a monoclonal antibody against α-fetoprotein for the radioimmunodetection of hepatocellular carcinoma

Authors

  • Elsa Springolo,

    1. Departments of Nuclear Medicine and Medicine, Witwatersrand University Medical School and Johannesburg Hospital, Johannesburg; Atomic Energy Corporation, Pelindaba, and Natal Institute of Immunology, Durban, South Africa
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  • Professor Michael C. Kew,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Nuclear Medicine and Medicine, Witwatersrand University Medical School and Johannesburg Hospital, Johannesburg; Atomic Energy Corporation, Pelindaba, and Natal Institute of Immunology, Durban, South Africa
    • Department of Medicine, Witwatersrand University Medical School, York Road, Park-town 2193, Johannesburg, South Africa
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  • Jan Esser,

    1. Departments of Nuclear Medicine and Medicine, Witwatersrand University Medical School and Johannesburg Hospital, Johannesburg; Atomic Energy Corporation, Pelindaba, and Natal Institute of Immunology, Durban, South Africa
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  • Margaretha Beyers,

    1. Departments of Nuclear Medicine and Medicine, Witwatersrand University Medical School and Johannesburg Hospital, Johannesburg; Atomic Energy Corporation, Pelindaba, and Natal Institute of Immunology, Durban, South Africa
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  • Jan D. Conradie,

    1. Departments of Nuclear Medicine and Medicine, Witwatersrand University Medical School and Johannesburg Hospital, Johannesburg; Atomic Energy Corporation, Pelindaba, and Natal Institute of Immunology, Durban, South Africa
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  • Joseph Levin

    1. Departments of Nuclear Medicine and Medicine, Witwatersrand University Medical School and Johannesburg Hospital, Johannesburg; Atomic Energy Corporation, Pelindaba, and Natal Institute of Immunology, Durban, South Africa
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of a radiolabeled mouse monoclonal antibody (and its F(ab′)2 fragment) against α-fetoprotein in the scinti-graphic diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma. Twenty-six southern African Blacks and one Caucasian with hepatocellular carcinoma and four patients with other malignant tumors of the liver were studied. Although six hepatocellular carcinomas appeared to selectively concentrate α-fetoprotein antibody, one of these tumors was not producing α-fetoprotein. Moreover, in another 18 patients with α-fetoprotein-producing hepatocellular carcinomas, uptake of α-fetoprotein antibody was at best only equal to that in nontumorous hepatic tissue, and three hepatocellular carcinomas that were not producing α-fetoprotein concentrated the antibody to the same extent as did the α-fetoprotein-producing tumors and hepatic tissue. All four tumors other than hepatocellular carcinoma concentrated α-fetoprotein antibody as well as did hepatic tissue. These findings suggest that the penetration of hepatocellular carcinomas by α-fetoprotein antibody is a passive and nonselective process. This conclusion is supported by an in vitro study in which a non-α-fetoprotein-producing hepatic metastasis took up as much radiolabeled α-fetoprotein antibody as did three of four α-fetoprotein-producing hepatocellular carcinomas. A likely explanation for the failure of α-fetoprotein monoclonal antibody to be selectively concentrated by hepatocellular carcinomas is that α-fetoprotein is an export protein and is not expressed on the cell membranes of malignant hepatocytes.

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