The HCV serum proteome: a search for fibrosis protein markers

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Liver fibrosis/cirrhosis is a serious health issue in hepatitis C virus (HCV-) infected patients and is currently diagnosed by the invasive liver biopsy. The aim of this study was to find useful fibrosis markers in HCV-patients' sera of different fibrosis degrees (METAVIR F0-F4) based on proteomics. Serum proteome profiles were created by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Profiles were analysed between different degrees of fibrosis (F0-F4) and between early (F0F1) and late (F2F3F4) fibrosis by univariate analyses (P ≤ 0.05). Differentially expressed proteins were subsequently identified by mass spectrometry. Mac-2-binding protein, α-2-macroglobulin and hemopexin were increased in F4 opposite F0/F1. A-1-antitrypsin, leucine-rich α-2-glycoprotein and fetuin-A were decreased in F4 opposite F0/F1. Late fibrosis was characterized by an increase in Mac-2-binding protein, α-2-macroglobulin and α-1B-glycoprotein expression and a decrease in haptoglobin expression. Mac-2-binding protein expression was confirmed by dot blot assay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in a secondary population. In conclusion, serum proteome analysis enabled the detection/identification of existing and new candidate markers in line with fibrosis progression in HCV-patients.

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