School of Medical and Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health (5R42RR021790, 1P20RR024237) National Health and Medical Research Council (1164692, 1138673) National Health and Medical Research Council Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
Background: The Australian Imaging and Biomarker Lifestyle (AIBL) study of aging is designed to aid the discovery of biomarkers. The current study aimed to discover differentially expressed plasma proteins that could yield a blood-based screening tool for Alzheimer’s disease. Methods: The concentration of proteins in plasma covers a vast range of 12 orders of magnitude. Therefore, to search for medium to low abundant biomarkers and elucidate mechanisms of AD, we immuno-depleted the most abundant plasma proteins and pre-fractionated the remaining proteins by HPLC, prior to two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. The relative levels of approximately 3400 protein species resolved on the 2D gels were compared using in-gel differential analysis with spectrally resolved fluorescent protein detection dyes (Zdyes™). Here we report on analysis of pooled plasma samples from an initial screen of a sex-matched cohort of 72 probable AD patients and 72 healthy controls from the baseline time point of AIBL. Results: We report significant changes in variants of apolipoprotein E, haptoglobin, α1 anti-trypsin, inter-α trypsin inhibitor, histidine-rich glycoprotein, and a protein of unknown identity. α1 anti-trypsin and α1 anti-chymotrypsin demonstrated plasma concentrations that were dependent on APOE ε4 allele dose. Our analysis also identified an association with the level of Vitamin D binding protein fragments and complement factor I with sex. We then conducted a preliminary validation study, on unique individual samples compared to the discovery cohort, using a targeted LC-MS/MS assay on a subset of discovered biomarkers. We found that targets that displayed a high degree of isoform specific changes in the 2D gels were not changed in the targeted MS assay which reports on the total level of the biomarker. Conclusions: This demonstrates that further development of mass spectrometry assays is needed to capture the isoform complexity that exists in theses biological samples. However, this study indicates that a peripheral protein signature has potential to aid in the characterization of AD.
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