Early detection of malignant biliary tract diseases, especially cholangiocarcinoma (CC) in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), is very difficult and often comes too late to give the patient a therapeutic benefit. We hypothesize that bile proteomic analysis distinguishes CC from nonmalignant lesions. We used capillary electrophoresis mass spectrometry (CE-MS) to identify disease-specific peptide patterns in patients with choledocholithiasis (n = 16), PSC (n = 18), and CC (n = 16) in a training set. A model for differentiation of choledocholithiasis from PSC and CC (PSC/CC model) and another model distinguishing CC from PSC (CC model) were subsequently validated in independent cohorts (choledocholithiasis [n = 14], PSC [n = 18] and CC [n = 25]). Peptides were characterized by sequencing. Application of the PSC/CC model in the independent test cohort resulted in correct exclusion of 12/14 bile samples from patients with choledocholithiasis and identification of 40/43 patients with PSC or CC (86% specificity, 93% sensitivity). The corresponding receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis revealed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.93 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.82-0.98, P = 0.0001). The CC model succeeded in an accurate detection of 14/18 bile samples from patients with PSC and 21/25 samples with CC (78% specificity, 84% sensitivity) in the independent cohort, resulting in an AUC value of 0.87 (95% CI: 0.73-0.95, P = 0.0001) in ROC analysis. Eight out of 10 samples of patients with CC complicating PSC were identified.
Conclusion: Bile proteomic analysis discriminates benign conditions from CC accurately. This method may become a diagnostic tool in future as it offers a new possibility to diagnose malignant bile duct disease and thus enables efficient therapy particularly in patients with PSC.
Copyright © 2011 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.