High-Throughput Proteomic Profiling of Nipple Aspirate Fluid from Breast Cancer Patients Compared with Non-Cancer Controls: A Step Closer to Clinical Feasibility.
BACKGROUND: Early detection of breast cancer (BC) is critical for increasing survival rates. However, current imaging approaches can provide ambiguous results, requiring invasive tissue biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. Multi-dimensional mass spectrometric analysis has highlighted the invaluable potential of nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) as a non-invasive source of early detection biomarkers, by identifying a multitude of proteins representative of the changing breast microenvironment. However, technical challenges with biomarker validation in large cohorts remain due to low sample throughput, impeding progress towards clinical utility. Rather, by employing a high-throughput method, that is more practicable for clinical utility, perturbations of the most abundant NAF proteins in BC patients compared with non-cancer (NC) controls could be monitored and validated in larger groups. METHOD: We characterized matched NAF pairs from BC (n = 9) and NC (n = 4) volunteers, using a rapid one dimensional liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (1D LC-MS/MS) approach. RESULTS: Overall, 198 proteins were relatively quantified, of which 40 were significantly differentiated in BC samples, compared with NC (p ≤ 0.05), with 26 upregulated and 14 downregulated. An imbalance in immune response and proteins regulating cell growth, maintenance and communication were identified. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show 1D LC-MS/MS can quantify changes reflected in the NAF proteome associated with breast cancer development.