Reproducibility of serum protein profiling by systematic assessment using solid-phase extraction and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry.Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2008; 22(3):291-300.RC
Protein profiling of human serum by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI MS) is potentially a new diagnostic tool for early detection of human diseases, including cancer. Sample preparation is a key issue in MALDI MS and the analysis of complex samples such as serum requires optimized, reproducible methods for handling and deposition of protein samples. Data acquisition in MALDI MS is also a critical issue, since heterogeneity of sample deposits leads to attenuation of ion signals in MALDI MS. In order to improve the robustness and reproducibility of MALDI MS for serum protein profiling we investigated a range of sample preparation techniques and developed a statistical method based on repeated analyses for evaluation of protein-profiling performance of MALDI MS. Two different solid-phase extraction (SPE) methods were investigated, namely custom-made microcolumns and commercially available magnetic beads. Using these two methods, nineteen different sample preparation methods for serum profiling by MALDI MS were systematically tested with regard to matrix selection, stationary phase, selectivity, and reproducibility. Microcolumns were tested with regard to chromatographic properties; reversed phase (C8, C18, SDB-XC), ion-exchange (anion, weak cation, mixed-phase (SDB-RPS)) and magnetic beads were tested with regard to chromatographic properties; reversed phase (C8) or affinity chromatography (Cu-IMAC). The reproducibility of each sample preparation method was determined by enumeration and analysis of protein signals that were detected in at least six out of nine spectra obtained by three triplicate analyses of one serum sample.A candidate for best overall performance as evaluated by the number of peaks generated and the reproducibility of mass spectra was found among the tested methods. Up to 418 reproducible peaks were detected in one cancer serum sample. These protein peaks can be part of a possible diagnostic profile, suggesting that this sample preparation method and data acquisition approach is suitable for large-scale analysis of serum samples for protein profiling.