Transferrin-bound proteins as potential biomarkers for advanced breast cancer patients

Paul Dowling, Valentina Palmerini, Michael Henry, Paula Meleady, Vincent Lynch, Jo Ballot, Giuseppe Gullo, John Crown, Michael Moriarty, Martin Clynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Serum profiling using mass spectrometry-based proteomic techniques has great potential to detect biomarkers that might improve the management for advanced breast cancer patients. The albuminome has previously been investigated as a tool in biomarker discovery, however other high abundant blood proteins are also likely to sequester potentially interesting molecules. Methods: Affinity resin purified and isolated Transferrin and associated bound proteins from normal control and breast cancer patient serum samples were analysed by label-free mass spectrometry during the discovery phase. Results: 21 significant proteins were identified with Fibrinogen and Fibronectin selected for further analysis in an independent sample set, with significant difference found when comparing the controls groups (normal healthy control, inflammatory bowel disease and benign breast disease) to stage IV breast cancer. Conclusions: The area under the curve value for Fibrinogen compared favourably with cancer antigen 15-3, an established breast cancer tumour marker. A combination of all three biomarkers improved accuracy when comparing control/benign to stage IV breast cancer patient groups. General significance: Mass spectrometry profiling of Transferrin-bound proteins has revealed serum proteins that can distinguish between serum from advanced breast cancer patients and healthy control subjects with high confidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-30
Number of pages7
JournalBBA Clinical
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Biomarkers
  • Breast cancer
  • Fibrinogen
  • Fibronectin
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Transferrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Molecular Medicine

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