Objectives: There are currently no diagnostic indicators that are consistently reliable, obtainable, and conclusive for diagnosing and risk-stratifying pancreatic cysts. Proteomic analyses were performed to explore pancreatic cyst fluids to yield effective diagnostic biomarkers.
Methods: We have prospectively recruited 20 research participants and prepared their pancreatic cyst fluids specifically for proteomic analyses. Proteomic approaches applied were as follows: (1) matrix-assisted laser-desorption-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry peptidomics with LC/MS/MS (HPLC-tandem mass spectrometry) protein identification; (2) 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis; (3) GeLC/MS/MS (tryptic digestion of proteins fractionated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and identified by LC/MS/MS).
Results: Sequencing of more than 350 free peptides showed that exopeptidase activities rendered peptidomics of cyst fluids unreliable; protein nicking by proteases in the cyst fluids produced hundreds of protein spots from the major proteins, making 2-dimensional gel proteomics unmanageable; GeLC/MS/MS revealed a panel of potential biomarker proteins that correlated with carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).
Conclusions: Two homologs of amylase, solubilized molecules of 4 mucins, 4 solubilized CEA-related cell adhesion molecules (CEACAMs), and 4 S100 homologs may be candidate biomarkers to facilitate future pancreatic cyst diagnosis and risk-stratification. This approach required less than 40 microL of cyst fluid per sample, offering the possibility to analyze cysts smaller than 1 cm in diameter.