Nipple aspirate fluid - a liquid biopsy for diagnosing breast health
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KeywordsBreast cancer; Liquid biopsy; Nipple Aspirate Fluid (NAF); Comparative proteomics
Permissions© 2017 The Authors. PROTEOMICS—Clinical Applications published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Purpose: Nipple secretions are protein-rich and a potential source of breast cancer biomarkers for breast cancer screening. Previous studies of specific proteins have shown limited correlation with clinicopatholigical features. Our aim, in this pilot study, was to investigate the intra- and inter-patient protein composition of nipple secretions and the implications for their use as liquid biopsies. Experimental design: Matched pairs of NAF (n=15) were characterised for physicochemical properties and SDS PAGE. Four pairs were selected for semi-quantitative proteomic profiling and trypsin-digested peptides analysed using 2D LC Orbitrap Fusion mass spectrometry. The resulting data was subject to bioinformatics analysis and statistical evaluation for functional significance. Results: A total of 1990 unique proteins were identified many of which are established cancer associated markers. Matched pairs shared the greatest similarity (average Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.94), but significant variations between individuals was observed. Conclusions: This was the most complete proteomic study of NAF to date providing a valuable source for biomarker discovery. The high level of milk proteins in healthy volunteer samples compared to the cancer patients was associated with galactorrhoea. Using matched pairs increased confidence in patient-specific protein levels but changes relating to cancer stage require investigation of a larger cohort.