Background: Deoxyribonuclease 1-like 3 (DNASE1L3) is an endonuclease associated with many autoimmune diseases and tumors. However, the serum DNASE1L3 level in hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unreported. Thus, this study compared the diagnostic value of DNASE1L3 and alpha-feto-protein (AFP) individually and in combination in HBV-related HCC.
Methods: The study population consisted of 88 patients with HBV-related HCC, 80 patients with HBV-related liver cirrhosis (LC) and 88 control subjects. The serum DNASE1L3 levels were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The serum AFP was also assayed.
Results: Our data showed that the serum DNASE1L3 levels were significantly higher in patients with HBV-related HCC than in the healthy controls and patients with LC. When the two biomarkers were analyzed individually, the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed that the areas under the curve of DNASE1L3 and AFP were 0.898 and 0.866, respectively. When DNASE1L3 and AFP were combined, the area under the curve was 0.951. The sensitivities of DNASE1L3 and AFP were 72.73% and 74.81%, respectively, and the specificities were 93.18% and 92.05%, respectively, in the diagnosis of HBV-related HCC. The sensitivity of the two combined could be improved to 89.77%. However, no correlation was found between serum DNASE1L3 and AFP in HBV-related HCC patients (r = 0.005, p = 0.734).
Conclusions: Serum DNASE1L3 has high sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of HCC. DNASE1L3 combined with AFP has higher sensitivity and can improve the diagnostic efficiency of HBV-related HCC.