Increase of Serum Des-gamma-Carboxy Prothrombin in Alcoholic Liver Disease Without Hepatocellular Carcinoma


Reprint requests: Motoyuki Ohhira, M.D., Third Department of Internal Medicine, Asahikawa Medical College, Nishikagura 4-5-3-11, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 078-8510, Japan; Fax: +81-166-68-2469.


The purpose of this study is to determine serum des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) levels in benign liver diseases by a new sensitive method, and to demonstrate the elevation of serum DCP in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) without hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Median values of serum DCP were 16.2 mAU/ml (range: 3.2 to 1570 mAU/ml) in ALD and 16.7 mAU/ml (1.2 to 75.4 mAU/ml) in viral liver disease (VLD). Using the cut-off value of 40 mAU/ml as a tumor marker for HCC, 21% (11/52) was positive in ALD and 2% (1/57) was positive in VLD (p= 0.0014, Fisher's exact probability test), and 27% (9/33) was positive in alcoholic liver cirrhosis and 3% (1/39) was positive in viral liver cirrhosis (p = 0.0042, Fisher's exact probability test). The positive rate of DCP was significantly (p< 0.001, Spearman's rank correlation test) correlated with the severity of liver disease in ALD. Serum vitamin K level was not decreased in cases with ALD. In a demonstrable case, serum DCP was decreased after abstinence and was increased again after the beginning of ethanol intake, suggesting the involvement of ethanol to the elevation of serum DCP in ALD. In conclusion, serum DCP was significantly elevated in ALD, compared with VLD, although the mechanism of the elevation of DCP was not clarified. Ethanol intake may act, in part, on the increase of serum DCP in ALD.