A reference measurement of circulating ATPase inhibitory factor 1 (IF1) in humans by LC-MS/MS: Comparison with conventional ELISA

Talanta. 2020 Nov 1:219:121300. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2020.121300. Epub 2020 Jun 30.


ATPase inhibitory factor 1 (IF1) is a 9.5 kDa protein that binds to mitochondrial and plasma membrane ATP synthase and selectively inhibits ATP hydrolysis. Recently, IF1 was identified in systemic circulation in humans. IF1 appeared as an independent determinant of HDL-cholesterol with lower levels in coronary heart disease (CHD) patients. Moreover, IF1 was also found to negatively associate with mortality in these patients, supporting the notion that circulating IF1 could be a promising biomarker of cardiovascular disease. However, in previous studies, IF1 was quantified by a non-standardized competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Herein, we have validated a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method (LC-MS/MS) enabling the accurate quantification of IF1 in human plasma. Plasma IF1 was trypsin-digested through an optimized procedure before LC-MS/MS analysis. The method was successfully validated over 4 independent experiments into the range of 100-1500 ng/mL. Intra- and inter-assay variation coefficients had never exceeded 14.2% and accuracy ranged between 95% and 102% for the selected EAGGAFGK peptide marker. Subsequently, the results of the LC-MS/MS method were compared with those obtained using ELISA in 204 individuals from the GENES study. We found that IF1 plasma levels obtained using both techniques were strongly correlated (r = 0.89, p < 0.0001), while the Bland-Altman plot did not indicate any major statistically significant differences. To clinically validate LC-MS/MS, we confirmed the positive correlation between IF1 plasma levels and HDL-cholesterol (r = 0.38, p < 0.0001). Besides, we found lower IF1 plasma levels in CHD patients compared to controls (431 ± 132 ng/mL and 555 ± 173 ng/mL, respectively; p < 0.0001). Hence, it can be concluded that the presented LC-MS/MS analytical method provides a highly specific strategy for IF1 quantification in human plasma and could be proposed as a reference method.

Keywords: ATPase inhibitory factor 1; Assay development; Cardiovascular disease; Clinical biomarker; Mass spectrometry.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Proteins*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry*


  • Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases