Creative Biolabs is a world-leading service provider for the discovery of in vitro diagnostic (IVD) antibodies. Based on our years of experience and advanced platform, we are confident in offering the best and most suitable IVD antibody discovery service against various markers for liver cancer, such as the alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) marker.

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)

Alpha-fetoprotein, also known as AFP, is encoded by the AFP gene located on chromosome 4q25. It is a main plasma protein as well as a glycoprotein, produced by the yolk sac and the fetal liver during fetal development. Usually, the plasma level of AFP decreased rapidly after birth. The function of AFP in adult remains unclear. It can bind and transport estrogen, retinoid, steroid, heavy metals and dioxins. Moreover, it can inhibit NK cells and interact with macrophage. It has been discussed that AFP may play an important role in the regulation of cell proliferation and tumor growth. Since it was found in the 1960s as a tumor-associated protein, and after rich years studies of its biological functions, now AFP is thought to be as a transport protein and a valuable biomarker for liver cancer.

Survival rates of hepatocellular carcinoma patients and expression of AFP and AFP receptor in tumor tissues. Fig 1. Survival rates of hepatocellular carcinoma patients and expression of AFP and AFP receptor in tumor tissues. (Li, P., Wang, 2011)

AFP Promote Metastasis of Liver Cancer Cells

It has been discovered that high plasma concentration of AFP has a positive correlation with metastasis of liver cancer cells, thus, it can promote the liver cancer cells metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Previous data showed that AFP gene was reactivated in liver cells in the early stage of liver cancer genesis. The cytosol AFP enhances the malignant cells proliferation by stimulating expression of Src and c-myc. However, the extracellular AFP promotes cell proliferation by binding to its AFP receptor. And the metastasis of liver cancer cells is mediated by the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, which can stimulate the expression of a metastasis-related factor, including CXCR4 (CXC motif chemokine receptor 4), keratin 19, EpCAM (epithelial cell adhesion molecules) and MMP2/9 (matrix metalloproteinase 2/9).

AFP for Liver Cancer Diagnosis

AFP has been a biomarker for liver cancer diagnosis and prognosis for many years. Recently, it has noticed that the serum AFP level was associated with HBx (HBV x protein), indicating that the serum AFP is a more valuable marker in patients with HBV-infected liver cancer. It has demonstrated that HBV x protein increases the expression of AFPR (alpha-fetoprotein receptor) and AFP. Furthermore, scientists have indicated that HBx can directly bind and activate the promoter of AFP gene. Research has also shown that pre-operative AFP level is an independent rick factor for poor prognosis in HBV-infected liver cancer patients after surgical treatment, and patients with lower pre-operative AFP level seems to have a higher overall survival. Inconsistent with these findings, AFP is still an important marker for liver cancer, especially for patients with chronic HBV infection.

With extensive experience and advanced technologies, Creative Biolabs has been recognized as an expert in the field of IVD antibody development. Our scientific team is able to provide polyclonal, monoclonal, and recombinant antibody development services for diagnostic use. Besides, we help develop high-quality IVD immunoassays of different formats, giving expert support in feasibility analysis, protocol establishment, assay design, validation, and kit production. If you are interested in our service, please do not hesitate to contact us for more details.


  1. Li, P., Wang, (2011). “Elevated serum alpha fetoprotein levels promote pathological progression of hepatocellular carcinoma.” World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 17(41), 4563.

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