• Open Access

Plasma biomarker discovery and validation for colorectal cancer by quantitative shotgun mass spectrometry and protein microarray


To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: tyamada@ncc.go.jp


The development of a new plasma biomarker for early detection would be necessary to improve the overall outcome of colorectal cancer. Here we report the identification and validation of the ninth component of complement (C9) as a novel plasma biomarker for colorectal cancer by cutting-edge proteomic technologies. Plasma proteins were enzymatically digested into a large array of peptides, and the relative quantity of a total of 94 803 peptide peaks was compared between 31 colorectal cancer patients and 59 age/sex-matched healthy controls using 2D image-converted analysis of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. The selected biomarker candidates were validated in 345 subjects (115 colorectal cancer patients and 230 age/sex-matched healthy controls) using high-density reverse-phase protein microarrays. Plasma levels of Apo AI and C9 in colorectal cancer patients significantly differed from healthy controls with P values of 7.94 × 10−4 and 1.43 × 10−12 (Student’s t-test), respectively. In particular, C9 was elevated in patients with colorectal cancer, including those with stage-I and -II diseases (= 3.01 × 10−3 and = 1.13 × 10−5, respectively). Although the significance of the present study must be validated in an independent clinical study, the increment of plasma C9 may be applicable to the early detection of colorectal cancer. (Cancer Sci 2011; 102: 630–638)