Isomer-specific chromatographic profiling yields highly sensitive and specific potential N-glycan biomarkers for epithelial ovarian cancer

J Chromatogr A. 2013 Mar 1;1279:58-67. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2012.12.079. Epub 2013 Jan 11.


Aberrant glycosylation has been observed for decades in essentially all types of cancer, and is now well established as an indicator of carcinogenesis. Mining the glycome for biomarkers, however, requires analytical methods that can rapidly separate, identify, and quantify isomeric glycans. We have developed a rapid-throughput method for chromatographic glycan profiling using microfluidic chip-based nanoflow liquid chromatography (nano-LC)/mass spectrometry. To demonstrate the utility of this method, we analyzed and compared serum samples from epithelial ovarian cancer cases (n=46) and healthy control individuals (n=48). Over 250 N-linked glycan compound peaks with over 100 distinct N-linked glycan compositions were identified. Statistical testing identified 26 potential glycan biomarkers based on both compositional and structure-specific analyses. Using these results, an optimized model was created incorporating the combined abundances of seven potential glycan biomarkers. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve of this optimized model had an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.96, indicating robust discrimination between cancer cases and healthy controls. Rapid-throughput chromatographic glycan profiling was found to be an effective platform for structure-specific biomarker discovery.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Female
  • Glycomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Isomerism
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / chemistry*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers
  • Polysaccharides