Absolute quantitation of disease protein biomarkers in a single LC-MS acquisition using apolipoprotein F as an example

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 21;7(1):12072. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12229-2.


LC-MS and immunoassay can detect protein biomarkers. Immunoassays are more commonly used but can potentially be outperformed by LC-MS. These techniques have limitations including the necessity to generate separate calibration curves for each biomarker. We present a rapid mass spectrometry-based assay utilising a universal calibration curve. For the first time we analyse clinical samples using the HeavyPeptide IGNIS kit which establishes a 6-point calibration curve and determines the biomarker concentration in a single LC-MS acquisition. IGNIS was tested using apolipoprotein F (APO-F), a potential biomarker for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Human serum and IGNIS prime peptides were digested and the IGNIS assay was used to quantify APO-F in clinical samples. Digestion of IGNIS prime peptides was optimised using trypsin and SMART Digest™. IGNIS was 9 times faster than the conventional LC-MS method for determining the concentration of APO-F in serum. APO-F decreased across NAFLD stages. Inter/intra-day variation and stability post sample preparation for one of the peptides was ≤13% coefficient of variation (CV). SMART Digest™ enabled complete digestion in 30 minutes compared to 24 hours using in-solution trypsin digestion. We have optimised the IGNIS kit to quantify APO-F as a NAFLD biomarker in serum using a single LC-MS acquisition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Apolipoproteins / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Calibration
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / blood
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / diagnosis
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Trypsin / metabolism


  • Apolipoproteins
  • Biomarkers
  • Peptides
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • apolipoprotein F
  • Trypsin