A proof-of-principle gel-free proteomics strategy for the identification of predictive biomarkers for the onset of pre-eclampsia


Dr RT Blankley, Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, 131 Princess Street, Manchester M1 7DN, UK. Email richard.blankley-2@manchester.ac.uk


Objective  Progress in the prevention and treatment of women at risk of pre-eclampsia (PE) still remains hindered by the lack of clinical screening tools that can accurately predict which mothers are at risk. The identification and validation of predictive biomarkers is therefore seen as a critical milestone towards improved healthcare provision and the clinical testing of new therapeutic strategies. Gel-free proteomic technologies offer the capability of analysing hundreds of plasma proteins simultaneously, but as yet these methods have not been applied to pregnancy complications. To assess the feasibility of such an approach to plasma biomarker research in pregnancy we have applied the technique to samples from women with PE to gestation-matched controls.

Sample  Pooled plasma samples taken at time of disease from women with PE (n = 23) and gestation-matched controls (n = 23).

Methods  Proteomics strategy for relative quantification of proteins using mass spectrometry.

Results  We identified several differences, including elevated levels of endoglin, PAPP-A and PSG1 in PE plasma. Increased levels of endoglin were validated using immunoassay analysis of individual plasma samples.

Conclusions  Although at a relatively early stage, this mass spectrometry-based approach shows promise as a tool to identify global protein changes in plasma. The application of these methods to pre-disease samples is the next step in the identification of clinically useful biomarkers.