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Glypican-3: A Novel Diagnostic Marker for Hepatocellular Carcinoma and More

Kandil, Dina H. MD; Cooper, Kumarasen MBChB, DPhil, FRCPath

Advances in Anatomic Pathology: March 2009 - Volume 16 - Issue 2 - p 125-129
doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e3181992455
New Antibody/Techniques

Glypican-3 (GPC3) is a heparan sulfate proteoglycan that plays an important role in cell growth and differentiation. GPC3 function is tissue dependent. In some tissues, GPC3 acts as a tumor suppressor gene, whereas in others, it acts as an oncofetal protein. Studies have shown that GPC3 is a reliable marker for hepatocellular carcinoma. The sensitivity and specificity exceeds both α-fetoprotein and hepatocyte-paraffin1. GPC3 immunohistochemistry can aid in the differentiation of testicular germ cell tumors, being expressed in all yolk sac tumors but not in seminomas. GPC3 expression has also been identified in some squamous cell carcinomas of the lung and clear cell carcinomas of the ovary. The role of GPC3 in melanomas is still controversial. This article reviews the current information on the application of GPC3 immunostaining in surgical pathology and cytology.

Department of Pathology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Sources of Support: None.

Reprints: Dina H. Kandil, MD, Department of Pathology, Fletcher Allen Healthcare, ACC, EP-2, 111 Colchester Avenue, Burlington, VT 05401 (e-mail:

All figures can be viewed online in color at

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.