Identification of 34 N-glycan isomers in human serum by capillary electrophoresis coupled with laser-induced fluorescence allows improving glycan biomarker discovery

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2014 Nov;406(28):7185-93. doi: 10.1007/s00216-014-8168-y. Epub 2014 Sep 19.


Alterations in glycosylation have been observed in many human diseases and specific changes in glycosylation have been proposed as relevant diagnostic information. Capillary electrophoresis coupled with laser-induced fluorescence (CE-LIF) is a robust method to quantify desialylated N-glycans that are labeled with 8-aminopyrene-1,3,6-trisulfonic acid prior to analysis. To date, only a maximum of 12 glycan structures, the most abundant ones, have been identified by CE-LIF to characterize glycome modulations of total serum in the course of the diseases. In most forms of cancer, findings using CE-LIF were limited to the increase of triantennary structures carrying a Lewis(x) epitope. In this work, we identified 32 linkage and positional glycan isomers in healthy human serum using exoglycosidase digestions as well as standard glycoproteins, for which we report the assignment of novel structures. It was possible to identify and quantify 34 glycan isomers in the serum of primary epithelial ovarian cancer patients (EOC). Reduced levels of diantennary structures and of high-mannose 5 were statistically significant in the EOC samples, and also, elevated branching as well as increased antennary fucosylation were observed. For the first time, we could demonstrate that not only antennary fucosylation was of relevance in tetraantennary structures but also core-fucosylated tetraantennary N-glycans were statistically increased in EOC patients. The results of the current study provide an improved dataset to be used in glycan biomarker discovery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / methods*
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Fucose / chemistry
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Lasers*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / blood*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood*
  • Polysaccharides / blood*
  • Serum / chemistry*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Polysaccharides
  • Fucose
  • Glycoside Hydrolases