The accredited biomarker alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) offers limited sensitivity and specificity in the early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To improve the screening performance, des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) has been identified as another promising biomarker of HCC, combined with AFP biomarkers. The results of the commercial optical enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit easily have the interference problem due to the optical methodology. The immunomagnetic reduction (IMR) assay based on the magnetic measurement was utilized to assay DCP biomarkers without the excellent antiinterference performances. A DCP magnetic reagent, composed of iron-oxide (Fe3O4) magnetic nanoparticles coated with anti-DCP antibodies solved in phosphoryl-buffer solution, was synthesized and characterized. In the test of standard DCP antigens, superior antiinterference and sensitivity than optical ELISA were proved. In the animal test, the results indicate good agreement between the IMR assay findings and the tumor sizes of HCC rats at all time points after the HCC implantation. The feasibility of the developed DCP magnetic reagent with the IMR for the detection of DCP is verified, and demonstrates the high potential for future clinical applications.
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