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J Proteome Res. 2009 May;8(5):2407-17. doi: 10.1021/pr8010342.

Identification and quantification of preterm birth biomarkers in human cervicovaginal fluid by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry.

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  • 1Center for Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6160, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Proteome Res. 2009 Jul;8(7):3786.


Spontaneous preterm birth (PTB) before 37 completed weeks of gestation resulting from preterm labor (PTL) is a leading contributor of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Early identification of at-risk women by reliable screening tests could alleviate this health issue; however, conventional methods such as obstetric history and clinical risk factors, uterine activity monitoring, biochemical markers, and cervical sonography for screening women at risk for PTB have proven unsuccessful in lowering the rate of PTB. Cervicovaginal fluid (CVF) might prove to be a useful, readily available biological fluid for identifying diagnostic PTB biomarkers. Human columnar epithelial endocervical-1 (End1) and vaginal (Vk2) cell secretomes were employed to generate a stable isotope labeled proteome (SILAP) standard to facilitate characterization and relative quantification of proteins present in CVF. The SILAP standard was prepared using stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) of End1 and Vk2 through seven passages. The labeled secreted proteins from both cell lines were combined and characterized by liquid-chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). In total, 1211 proteins were identified in the End1-Vk2 SILAP standard, with 236 proteins being consistently identified in each of the replicates analyzed. Individual proteins were found to contain <0.5% of the endogenous unlabeled forms. Identified proteins were screened to provide a set of 15 candidates that have either previously been identified as potential PTB biomarkers or could be linked mechanistically to PTB. Stable isotope dilution LC-multiple reaction monitoring (MRM/MS) assays were then developed for conducting relative quantification of the 15 candidate biomarkers in human CVF samples from term and PTB cases. Three proteins were significantly elevated in PTB cases (desmoplakin isoform 1, stratifin, and thrombospondin 1 precursor), providing a foundation for further validation in larger patient cohorts.

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