Prostate cancer serum biomarker discovery through proteomic analysis of alpha-2 macroglobulin protein complexes

Earle F. Burgess, Amy Joan L. Ham, David L. Tabb, Dean Billheimer, Bruce J. Roth, Sam S. Chang, Michael S. Cookson, Timothy J. Hinton, Kristin L. Cheek, Salisha Hill, Jennifer A. Pietenpol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Alpha-2 macroglobulin (A2M) functions as a universal protease inhibitor in serum and is capable of binding various cytokines and growth factors. In this study, we investigated if immunoaffinity enrichment and proteomic analysis of A2M protein complexes from human serum could improve detection of biologically relevant and novel candidate protein biomarkers in prostate cancer. Serum samples from six patients with androgen-independent, metastatic prostate cancer and six control patients without malignancy were analyzed by immunoaffinity enrichment of A2M protein complexes and MS identification of associated proteins. Known A2M substrates were reproducibly identified from patient serum in both cohorts, as well as proteins previously undetected in human serum. One example is heat shock protein 90 alpha (HSP90α), which was identified only in the serum of cancer patients in this study. Using an ELISA, the presence of HSP90α in human serum was validated on expanded test cohorts and found to exist in higher median serum concentrations in prostate cancer (n = 18) relative to control (n = 13) patients (median concentrations 50.7 versus 27.6 ng/mL, respectively, p = 0.001). Our results demonstrate the technical feasibility of this approach and support the analysis of A2M protein complexes for proteomic-based serum biomarker discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1223-1233
Number of pages11
JournalProteomics - Clinical Applications
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Biomarker
  • Heat-shock protein 90
  • Prostate cancer
  • Serum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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