Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fifth most common cause of death from cancer in Korea. PDAC is difficult to diagnose at an early stage and even more difficult to cure. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify molecular targets for early diagnosis and effective treatment. The objectives of this study were to identify differentially expressed biomarker proteins of PDAC using proteomic analysis, to validate the identified biomarker proteins associated with carcinogenesis using western blot analysis and to evaluate clinical factors influencing expression of candidate biomarker proteins.
Methods: In the present study, we carried out proteomic analysis in 10 pairs of PDAC specimens with matching adjacent normal tissues to clarify the different patterns of protein expression. The proteins were separated by high-resolution 2-D polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D PAGE) and the differentially expressed proteins were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). Differential expression of candidate biomarker proteins associated with carcinogenesis was further validated using western blot analysis. Standard statistical analysis was carried out in an attempt to establish a correlation between clinical variables and expression of candidate biomarker proteins.
Results: Analysis of PDAC and the adjacent normal tissues showed reproducibly similar proteomic patterns for each group. Approximately 700 spots each were seen by silver-stained gels from both PDAC and normal tissues. Differentially expressed protein spots were gel digested and identified by MALDI-TOF MS. Twenty-five proteins were identified, of which five proteins (galectin-1, enolase-2, alpha-1-antitrypsin, N-myc interactor, peroxiredoxin-4) were previously reported as being differentially expressed either at the mRNA level or protein level in human cancer. The five proteins were selected for candidate biomarker proteins related to carcinogenesis. These proteins were further validated by western blot analysis. Among the candidate biomarker proteins, galectin-1 expression was highly correlated to histology (P = 0.019), T stage (P = 0.047), N stage (P = 0.033) and American Joint Committee on Cancer stage (P = 0.011).
Conclusion: Differentially expressed 25 proteins in PDAC were identified using proteomic analysis and five proteins related to carcinogenesis were validated by western blot analysis. Galectin-1 expression was highly correlated to tumour histology and stage.