Integrating Serum Protein Electrophoresis with Mass Spectrometry, A New Workflow for M-Protein Detection and Quantification

J Proteome Res. 2020 Jul 2;19(7):2845-2853. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.9b00705. Epub 2020 Jan 14.


Serum protein electrophoresis (SPE) and immunofixation electrophoresis (IFE) are standard tools for multiple myeloma (MM) routine diagnostics. M-protein is a biomarker for MM that can be quantified with SPE and characterized with IFE. We have investigated combining SPE/IFE with targeted mass spectrometry (MS) to detect and quantify the M-protein. SPE-MS assay offers the possibility to detect M-protein with higher sensitivity than SPE/IFE, which could lead to better analysis of minimal residual disease in clinical laboratories. In addition, analysis of archived SPE gels could be used for retrospective MM studies. We have investigated two different approaches of measuring M-protein and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (t-mAbs) from SPE/IFE gels. After extracting proteotypic peptides from the gel, they can be quantified using stable isotope labeled (SIL) peptides and measured by Orbitrap mass spectrometry. Alternatively, extracted peptides can be labeled with tandem mass tags (TMT). Both approaches are not hampered by the presence of t-mAbs. Using SIL peptides, limit of detection of the M-protein is approximately 100-fold better than with routine SPE/IFE. Using TMT labeling, M-protein can be compared in different samples from the same patient. We have successfully measured M-protein proteotypic peptides extracted from the SPE/IFE gels utilizing SIL peptides and TMT.

Keywords: M-protein; daratumumab; immunofixation electrophoresis; ipilimumab; multiple myeloma; serum protein electrophoresis; tandem mass tag; targeted mass spectrometry; therapeutic monoclonal antibody.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Protein Electrophoresis
  • Humans
  • Immunoelectrophoresis
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Workflow*