Detection of Ovarian Cancer Using Samples Sourced from the Vaginal Microenvironment

J Proteome Res. 2020 Jan 3;19(1):503-510. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.9b00694. Epub 2019 Dec 2.


Mass spectrometry (MS) offers high levels of specificity and sensitivity in clinical applications, and we have previously been able to demonstrate that matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS is capable of distinguishing two-component cell mixtures at low limits of detection. Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to detect due to the lack of diagnostic techniques available to the medical community. By sampling a local microenvironment, such as the vaginal canal and cervix, a MS based method is presented for monitoring disease progression from proximal samples to the diseased tissue. A murine xenograft model of high grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) was used for this study, and vaginal lavages were obtained from mice on a weekly basis throughout disease progression and subjected to our MALDI-TOF MS workflow followed by statistical analyses. Proteins in the 4-20 kDa region of the mass spectrum yielded a fingerprint that we could consistently measure over time that correlated with disease progression. These fingerprints were found to be largely stable across all mice, with the protein fingerprint converging toward the end point of the study. MALDI-TOF MS serves as a unique analytical technique for measuring a sampled vaginal microenvironment in a specific and sensitive manner for the detection of HGSOC in a murine model.

Keywords: MALDI-TOF MS; detection; disease progression; fingerprints; lavage; microenvironment; murine model; ovarian cancer; proteins; vaginal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / diagnosis
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice, Nude
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Therapeutic Irrigation
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Vagina / metabolism*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Proteins