Published online Dec 18, 2015. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v7.i29.2913
Peer-review started: July 12, 2015
First decision: September 8, 2015
Revised: September 30, 2015
Accepted: December 1, 2015
Article in press: December 2, 2015
Published online: December 18, 2015
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the main cause of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in Western countries. Over time, the majority of cirrhotic patients develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), one of the most common fatal cancers worldwide - fourth for incidence rate. A high public health priority need is the development of biomarkers to screen for liver disease progression and for early diagnosis of HCC development, particularly in the high risk population represented by HCV-positive patients with cirrhosis. Several studies have shown that serological determination of a novel biomarker, squamous cell carcinoma antigen-immunoglobulins M (SCCA-IgM), might be useful to identify patients with progressive liver disease. In the initial part of this review we summarize the main clinical studies that have investigated this new circulating biomarker on HCV-infected patients, providing evidence that in chronic hepatitis C SCCA-IgM may be used to monitor progression of liver disease, and also to assess the virological response to antiviral treatment. In the last part of this review we address other, not less important, clinical applications of this biomarker in hepatology.
Core tip: A high public health priority need is the development of biomarkers to screen for liver disease progression in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive patients. Serological squamous cell carcinoma antigen-immunoglobulins M has shown the ability to identify patients with progressive liver disease and patients at higher risk of hepatocellular carcinoma development. In this review we summarize the main clinical studies performed using this new circulating biomarker for monitoring cirrhosis progression in HCV-positive patients and to evaluate virological response to antiviral treatment.