Serum glycome profiling: a biomarker for diagnosis of ovarian cancer

J Proteome Res. 2013 Sep 6;12(9):4056-63. doi: 10.1021/pr400405x. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


During the development of cancer, changes in cellular glycosylation are observed, indicating that alterations of the glycome occur in extracellular fluids as well as in serum and could therefore serve as tumor biomarkers. In the case of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), common tumor markers such as CA125 are known to have poor specificity; therefore, better biomarkers are needed. The aim of this work was to identify new potential glycan biomarkers in EOC-patients. N-Glycans were cleaved from serum glycoproteins from 63 preoperative primary EOC-patients along with 33 age-matched healthy women, permethylated, and analyzed using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. A value named GLYCOV was calculated from the relative areas of the 11 N-glycan biomarkers revealed by SPSS statistical analyses, namely four high-mannose and seven complex-type fucosylated N-glycans. GLYCOV diagnosed primary EOC with a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 98.4% whereas CA-125 showed a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 88.9%. Our study is the first one to compare glycan values with the established tumor marker CA125 and to give better results. Therefore, the N-glycome could potentially be used as a biomarker.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood
  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / blood*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / blood*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Polysaccharides / blood
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • ROC Curve


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CA-125 Antigen
  • Glycoproteins
  • Polysaccharides