Advances for Biomarker Discovery in Neuroproteomics using Mass Spectrometry : From Method Development to Clinical Application

Sammanfattning: Proteins offer a prominent group of compounds which may be ubiquitously affected in disease and used as biomarkers for early diagnosis, assessing treatment or drug development. Clinical proteomics aim to screen for protein biomarkers by a comprehensive analysis of all proteins expressed in a biological matrix during a certain pathology. Characterization of thousands of proteins in a complex biological matrix is from an analytical point of view a challenging task. Hence, sophisticated methods that are sensitive, specific and robust in a high-throughput manner are required. Mass spectrometry (MS) is able to perform this to a wide extent is.A prominent source for finding protein biomarkers related to neurological diseases is the central nervous system (CNS) due to close proximity of the pathogenesis. Neuroproteomic analysis of CNS tissue samples is thus likely to reveal novel biomarkers. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) bathes the entire CNS and offers a good balance between clinical implementation and usefulness. Both matrices put further requirements on the methodology due to a high dynamic range, low protein concentration and limited sample amount.The central objective of this thesis was to develop, assess and utilize analytical methods to be used in combination with MS to enable protein biomarker discovery in the CNS. The use of hexapeptide ligand libraries was exemplified on CSF from patients with traumatic brain injury and demonstrated the ability to compress the dynamic range to enable protein profiling in the order of mg/mL to pg/mL. Further, a method based on cloud-point extraction was developed for simultaneous enrichment and fractionation of hydrophobic/hydrophilic proteins in brain tissue. Comparison between label and label-free MS based strategies were carried out, mimicking the true conditions with a few differentially expressed proteins and a bulk of proteins occurring in unchanged ratio. Finally, a clinical application was carried out to explore the molecular mechanism underlying the analgesic effect of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) in patients with neuropathic pain. The CSF concentration of Lynx1 was found to increase upon SCS. Lynx1, acting as a specific modulator of the cholinergic system in the CNS, may act as a potential important molecular explanation of SCS-induced analgesia.