Mass spectrometry-based analysis of therapy-related changes in serum proteome patterns of patients with early-stage breast cancer

J Transl Med. 2010 Jul 11;8:66. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-8-66.


Background: The proteomics approach termed proteome pattern analysis has been shown previously to have potential in the detection and classification of breast cancer. Here we aimed to identify changes in serum proteome patterns related to therapy of breast cancer patients.

Methods: Blood samples were collected before the start of therapy, after the surgical resection of tumors and one year after the end of therapy in a group of 70 patients diagnosed at early stages of the disease. Patients were treated with surgery either independently (26) or in combination with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (5) or adjuvant radio/chemotherapy (39). The low-molecular-weight fraction of serum proteome was examined using MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry, and then changes in intensities of peptide ions registered in a mass range between 2,000 and 14,000 Da were identified and correlated with clinical data.

Results: We found that surgical resection of tumors did not have an immediate effect on the mass profiles of the serum proteome. On the other hand, significant long-term effects were observed in serum proteome patterns one year after the end of basic treatment (we found that about 20 peptides exhibited significant changes in their abundances). Moreover, the significant differences were found primarily in the subgroup of patients treated with adjuvant therapy, but not in the subgroup subjected only to surgery. This suggests that the observed changes reflect overall responses of the patients to the toxic effects of adjuvant radio/chemotherapy. In line with this hypothesis we detected two serum peptides (registered m/z values 2,184 and 5,403 Da) whose changes correlated significantly with the type of treatment employed (their abundances decreased after adjuvant therapy, but increased in patients treated only with surgery). On the other hand, no significant correlation was found between changes in the abundance of any spectral component or clinical features of patients, including staging and grading of tumors.

Conclusions: The study establishes a high potential of MALDI-ToF-based analyses for the detection of dynamic changes in the serum proteome related to therapy of breast cancer patients, which revealed the potential applicability of serum proteome patterns analyses in monitoring the toxicity of therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / blood*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*
  • Time Factors


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Proteome