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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2013 Jan;12(1):55-64. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M112.018192. Epub 2012 Oct 10.

Longitudinal analysis of maternal plasma apolipoproteins in pregnancy: a targeted proteomics approach.

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Madigan Healthcare System, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tacoma, Washington 98431, USA.


Minimally invasive diagnostic tests are needed in obstetrics to identify women at risk for complications during delivery. The apolipoproteins fluctuate in complexity and abundance in maternal plasma during pregnancy and could be incorporated into a blood test to evaluate this risk. The objective of this study was to examine the relative plasma concentrations of apolipoproteins and their biochemically modified subtypes (i.e. proteolytically processed, sialylated, cysteinylated, dimerized) over gestational time using a targeted mass spectrometry approach. Relative abundance of modified and unmodified apolipoproteins A-I, A-II, C-I, C-II, and C-III was determined by surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization-time of flight-mass spectrometry in plasma prospectively collected from 11 gravidas with uncomplicated pregnancies at 4-5 gestational time points per patient. Apolipoproteins were readily identifiable by spectral pattern. Apo C-III(2) and Apo C-III(1) (doubly and singly sialylated Apo C-III subtypes) increased with gestational age (r(2)>0.8). Unmodified Apo A-II, Apo C-I, and Apo C-III(0) showed no correlation (r(2) = 0.01-0.1). Pro-Apo C-II did not increase significantly until third trimester (140 ± 13% of first trimester), but proteolytically cleaved, mature Apo C-II increased in late pregnancy (702 ± 130% of first trimester). Mature Apo C-II represented 6.7 ± 0.9% of total Apo C-II in early gestation and increased to 33 ± 4.5% in third trimester. A label-free, semiquantitative targeted proteomics approach was developed using LTQ-Orbitrap mass spectrometry to confirm the relative quantitative differences observed by surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization-time of flight-mass spectrometry in Apo C-III and Apo C-II isoforms between first and third trimesters. Targeted apolipoprotein screening was applied to a cohort of term and preterm patients. Modified Apo A-II isoforms were significantly elevated in plasma from mothers who delivered prematurely relative to term controls (p = 0.02). These results support a role for targeted proteomics profiling approaches in monitoring healthy pregnancies and assessing risk of adverse obstetric outcomes.

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