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J Proteomics. 2012 Jul 16;75(13):3938-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2012.05.005. Epub 2012 May 12.

Batch effects correction improves the sensitivity of significance tests in spectral counting-based comparative discovery proteomics.

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  • 1Vall d'Hebron Institut of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain.


Shotgun proteomics has become the standard proteomics technique for the large-scale measurement of protein abundances in biological samples. Despite quantitative proteomics has been usually performed using label-based approaches, label-free quantitation offers advantages related to the avoidance of labeling steps, no limitation in the number of samples to be compared, and the gain in protein detection sensitivity. However, since samples are analyzed separately, experimental design becomes critical. The exploration of spectral counting quantitation based on LC-MS presented here gathers experimental evidence of the influence of batch effects on comparative proteomics. The batch effects shown with spiking experiments clearly interfere with the biological signal. In order to minimize the interferences from batch effects, a statistical correction is proposed and implemented. Our results show that batch effects can be attenuated statistically when proper experimental design is used. Furthermore, the batch effect correction implemented leads to a substantial increase in the sensitivity of statistical tests. Finally, the applicability of our batch effects correction is shown on two different biomarker discovery projects involving cancer secretomes. We think that our findings will allow designing and executing better comparative proteomics projects and will help to avoid reaching false conclusions in the field of proteomics biomarker discovery.

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