Background: Few studies have investigated the blood proteome of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We characterized the serum abundance of proteins encoded at 163 known IBD risk loci and tested these proteins for their biomarker discovery potential.
Methods: Based on the Human Protein Atlas (HPA) antibody availability, 218 proteins from genes mapping at 163 IBD risk loci were selected. Targeted serum protein profiles from 49 Crohn's disease (CD) patients, 51 ulcerative colitis (UC) patients, and 50 sex- and age-matched healthy individuals were obtained using multiplexed antibody suspension bead array assays. Differences in relative serum abundance levels between disease groups and controls were examined. Replication was attempted for CD-UC comparisons (including disease subtypes) by including 64 additional patients (33 CD and 31 UC). Antibodies targeting a potentially novel risk protein were validated by paired antibodies, Western blot, immuno-capture mass spectrometry, and epitope mapping.
Results: By univariate analysis, 13 proteins mostly related to neutrophil, T-cell, and B-cell activation and function were differentially expressed in IBD patients vs healthy controls, 3 in CD patients vs healthy controls and 2 in UC patients vs healthy controls (q < 0.01). Multivariate analyses further differentiated disease groups from healthy controls and CD subtypes from UC (P < 0.05). Extended characterization of an antibody targeting a novel, discriminative serum marker, the laccase (multicopper oxidoreductase) domain containing 1 (LACC1) protein, provided evidence for antibody on-target specificity.
Conclusions: Using affinity proteomics, we identified a set of IBD-associated serum proteins encoded at IBD risk loci. These candidate proteins hold the potential to be exploited as diagnostic biomarkers of IBD.