Identification of Candidate Plasma Protein Biomarkers for Cervical Cancer Using the Multiplex Proximity Extension Assay

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2019 Apr;18(4):735-743. doi: 10.1074/mcp.RA118.001208. Epub 2019 Jan 28.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is recommended as the primary test in cervical cancer screening, with co-testing by cytology for HPV-positive women to identify cervical lesions. Cytology has low sensitivity and there is a need to identify biomarkers that could identify dysplasia that are likely to progress to cancer. We searched for plasma proteins that could identify women with cervical cancer using the multiplex proximity extension assay (PEA). The abundance of 100 proteins were measured in plasma collected at the time of diagnosis of patients with invasive cervical cancer and in population controls using the Olink Multiplex panels CVD II, INF I, and ONC II. Eighty proteins showed increased levels in cases compared with controls. We identified a signature of 11 proteins (PTX3, ITGB1BP2, AXIN1, STAMPB, SRC, SIRT2, 4E-BP1, PAPPA, HB-EGF, NEMO and IL27) that distinguished cases and controls with a sensitivity of 0.96 at a specificity of 1.0. This signature was evaluated in a prospective replication cohort with samples collected before, at or after diagnosis and achieved a sensitivity of 0.78 and a specificity 0.56 separating samples collected at the time of diagnosis of invasive cancer from samples collected prior to diagnosis. No difference in abundance was seen between samples collected prior to diagnosis or after treatment as compared with population controls, indicating that this protein signature is mainly informative close to time of diagnosis. Further studies are needed to determine the optimal window in time prior to diagnosis for these biomarker candidates.

Keywords: Blood*; Cancer biomarker(s); Cervical cancer; Clinical proteomics; Human Papillomavirus; Personalized medicine; Screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biological Assay / methods*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • ROC Curve
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / blood*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / therapy
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Blood Proteins