Serum regucalcin is a useful indicator of liver injury severity in patients with hepatitis B virus-related liver diseases

Regucalcin is a soluble protein that is principally expressed in hepatocytes. Studies of regucalcin have mainly been conducted in animals due to a lack of commercially available kits. We aimed to develop an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to quantify serum regucalcin in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related disease. High-titer monoclonal antibodies and a polyclonal antibody to regucalcin were produced, a double-antibody sandwich ELISA method was established, and serum regucalcin was determined in 47 chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients, 91 HBV-related acute-on-chronic liver failure (HBV-ACLF) patients, and 33 healthy controls. The ELISA demonstrated an appropriate linear range, and high levels of reproducibility, sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and stability. The median serum regucalcin concentrations in HBV-ACLF and CHB patients were 5.46 and 3.76 ng/mL, respectively (P<0.01), which were much higher than in healthy controls (1.72 ng/mL, both P<0.01). For the differentiation of CHB patients and healthy controls, the area under curve (AUC) was 0.86 with a cut-off of 2.42 ng/mL, 85.7% sensitivity, and 78.8% specificity. In contrast, the AUC of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) was lower (AUC=0.80, P=0.01). To differentiate ACLF from CHB, the AUC was 0.72 with a cut-off of 4.26 ng/mL, 77.0% sensitivity, and 61.2% specificity while the AUC of ALT was 0.41 (P=0.07). Thus, we have developed an ELISA that is suitable for measuring serum regucalcin and have shown that serum regucalcin increased with the severity of liver injury due to HBV-related diseases, such that it appears to be more useful than ALT as a marker of liver injury.