High-Throughput Analysis of Plasma Hybrid Markers for Early Detection of Cancers
Received: 26 November 2013 / Revised: 17 December 2013 / Accepted: 8 January 2014 / Published: 13 January 2014
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Biomarkers for the early detection of cancer in the general population have to perform with high sensitivity and specificity in order to prevent the costs associated with over-diagnosis. There are only a few current tissue or blood markers that are recommended for
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Biomarkers for the early detection of cancer in the general population have to perform with high sensitivity and specificity in order to prevent the costs associated with over-diagnosis. There are only a few current tissue or blood markers that are recommended for generalized cancer screening. Despite the recognition that combinations of multiple biomarkers will likely improve their utility, biomarker panels are usually limited to a single class of molecules. Tissues and body fluids including plasma and serum contain not only proteins, DNA and microRNAs that are differentially expressed in cancers but further cancer specific information might be gleaned by comparing different classes of biomolecules. For example, the level of a certain microRNA might be related to the level of a particular protein in a cancer specific manner. Proteins might have cancer-specific post-translational modifications (e.g., phosphorylation or glycosylation) or lead to the generation of autoantibodies. Most currently approved biomarkers are glycoproteins. Autoantibodies can be produced as a host’s early surveillance response to cancer-specific proteins in pre-symptomatic and pre-diagnostic stages of cancer. Thus, measurement of the level of a protein, the level of its glycosylation or phosphorylation and whether autoantibodies are produced to it can yield multi-dimensional information on each protein. We consider specific proteins that show consistent cancer-specific changes in two or three of these measurements to be “hybrid markers”. We hypothesize these markers will suffer less variation between different individuals since one component can act to “standardize” the other measurement. As a proof of principle, a 180 plasma sample set consisting of 120 cases (60 colon cancers and 60 adenomas) and 60 controls were analyzed using our high-density antibody array for changes in their protein, IgG-complex and sialyl-Lewis A (SLeA) modified proteins. At p
< 0.05, expression changes in 1,070 proteins, 49 IgG-complexes (11 present in the protein list) and 488 Lewis X-modified proteins (57 on the protein list) were observed. The biomarkers significant on both lists are potential hybrid markers. Thus, plasma hybrid markers have the potential to create a new class of early detection markers of cancers.