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Open Access Research

Preliminary characterizations of a serum biomarker for sarcoidosis by comparative proteomic approach with tandem-mass spectrometry in ethnic Han Chinese patients

Yuan Zhang1, Xianqiu Chen1, Yang Hu1, Shanshan Du1, Li Shen1, Yifan He1, Yuxuan Zhang1, Xia Zhang1, Huiping Li1* and Rex C Yung2

  • * Corresponding author: Huiping Li liw2013@126.com

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Respiratory Medicine, Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, 200433, Shanghai, China

2 Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 21205, Baltimore, MD, USA

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Respiratory Research 2013, 14:18  doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-18

Published: 11 February 2013

Abstract

Background

The diagnosis of sarcoidosis is still a significant challenge in China because of the need to exclude other diseases including granulomatous infections and malignancies that may be clinically and radiographically similar. The specific aim of the study is to search for serum protein biomarkers of sarcoidosis and to validate their clinical usefulness in differential diagnosis.

Methods

Serum samples were collected from patients with sarcoidosis (n = 37), and compared to those from patients with tuberculosis (n = 20), other pulmonary diseases (n = 20), and healthy volunteers (n = 20) for determination of sarcoidosis-specific or -associated protein expression profiles. The first part of this study focused on proteomic analysis of serum from patients with sarcoidosis to identify a pattern of peptides capable of differentiating the studied populations using the ClinProt profiling technology based on mass spectrometry. Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) was then used to verify corresponding elevation of the serum protein concentration of the potential biomarkers in the same patients sets. Receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analyses was performed to determine the optimal cutoff value for diagnosis. Immunohistochemistry was carried out to further confirm the protein expression patterns of the biomarkers in lung tissue.

Results

An unique protein peak of M/Z 3,210 Daltons (Da) was found to be differentially expressed between the sarcoidosis and control groups and was identified as the N-terminal peptide of 29 amino acids (94-122) of serum amyloid A (SAA). ELISA confirmed that the serum SAA level was significantly higher in the sarcoidosis group than that of the other 3 control groups (p < 0.05). The cutoff for serum SAA concentration determined by ROC analysis was 101.98 ng/ml, with the sensitivity and specificity of 96.3% and 52.5%, respectively. Immunohistochemical staining showed that the SAA depositions in lung tissue of the sarcoidosis patients were also significantly more intense than in non-sarcoid lung tissue (p < 0.05).

Conclusion

This is the first study to investigate serum protein markers in Chinese subjects with sarcoidosis. This study shows that the serum SAA expression profiles were different between the sarcoidosis and non-sarcoidosis groups. SAA may be a potential serum biomarker for ruling-out the diagnosis of sarcoidosis in Chinese subjects.

Keywords:
Sarcoidosis; Diagnosis; Proteomics; Biomarker; Serum Amyloid A