LC-MS profiling of N-glycans derived from human serum samples for biomarker discovery in hepatocellular carcinoma

Tsung Heng Tsai, Minkun Wang, Cristina Di Poto, Yunli Hu, Shiyue Zhou, Yi Zhao, Rency S. Varghese, Yue Luo, Mahlet G. Tadesse, Dina Hazem Ziada, Chirag S. Desai, Kirti Shetty, Yehia Mechref, Habtom W. Ressom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Defining clinically relevant biomarkers for early stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in a high-risk population of cirrhotic patients has potentially far-reaching implications for disease management and patient health. Changes in glycan levels have been associated with the onset of numerous diseases including cancer. In the present study, we used liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS) to analyze N-glycans in sera from 183 participants recruited in Egypt and the U.S. and identified candidate biomarkers that distinguish HCC cases from cirrhotic controls. N-Glycans were released from serum proteins and permethylated prior to the LC-ESI-MS analysis. Through two complementary LC-ESI-MS quantitation approaches, global profiling and targeted quantitation, we identified 11 N-glycans with statistically significant differences between HCC cases and cirrhotic controls. These glycans can further be categorized into four structurally related clusters, matching closely with the implications of important glycosyltransferases in cancer progression and metastasis. The results of this study illustrate the power of the integrative approach combining complementary LC-ESI-MS based quantitation approaches to investigate changes in N-glycan levels between HCC cases and patients with liver cirrhosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4859-4868
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 7 2014


  • cancer biomarker discovery
  • glycomics
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • liver cirrhosis
  • mass spectrometry
  • multiple reaction monitoring


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