Identification of biologic markers of the premature rupture of fetal membranes: Proteomic approach



In obstetrics, premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) is a frequent observation which is responsible for many premature deliveries. PROM is also associated with an increased risk of fetal and maternal infections. Early diagnosis is mandatory in order to decrease such complications. Despite that current biological tests allowing the diagnosis of PROM are both sensitive and specific, contamination of the samples by maternal blood can induce false positive results. Therefore, in order to identify new potential markers of PROM (present only in amniotic blood, and absent in maternal blood), proteomic studies were undertaken on samples collected from six women at terms (pairs of maternal plasma and amniotic fluid) as well as on four samples of amniotic fluid collected from other women at the 17th week of gestation. All samples (N = 16) were analyzed by two-dimensional (2-D) high-resolution electrophoresis, followed by sensitive silver staining. The gel images were studied using bioinformatic tools. Analyses were focused on regions corresponding to pI between 4.5 and 7 and to molecular masses between 20 and 50 kDa. In this area, 646 ± 113 spots were detected, and 27 spots appeared to be present on the gels of amniotic fluid, but were absent on those of maternal plasma. Nine out of these 27 spots were also observed on the gels of the four samples of amniotic fluids collected at the 17th week of pregnancy. Five of these 9 spots were unambiguously detected on preparative 2-D gels stained by Coomassie blue, and were identified by mass spectrometry analyses. Three spots corresponded to fragments of plasma proteins, and 2 appeared to be fragments of proteins not known to be present in plasma. These 2 proteins were agrin (SWISS-PROT: O00468) and perlecan (SWISS-PROT: P98160). Our results show that proteomics is a valuable approach to identify new potential biological markers for future PROM diagnosis.