Quantitative Plasma Proteomic Profiling Identifies the Vitamin E Binding Protein Afamin as a Potential Pathogenic Factor in SIV Induced CNS Disease

Investigating, predicting, diagnosing, and treating HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) has been hindered by the lack of disease-related molecular markers. In this study, plasma from rhesus monkeys (<i>n</i> = 6), before and after infection with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), was profiled to obtain differential fingerprints in protein expression during SIV-induced central nervous system (CNS) disease. A quantitative proteomic analysis was performed by means of isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) labeling, using multidimensional liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) run on a linear ion trap mass spectrometer in an integrated mode comprising pulsed-Q-dissociation (PQD) and CID. Among a panel of proteins showing differential expression following SIV infection, we identified afamin, a member of the albumin superfamily, to be significantly down regulated after infection. Validation by Western blot confirmed this observation and, given its potential implication in neuroprotection by transport of alpha-tocopherol (αTocH), provides new avenues into further understanding HIV induced CNS disease. iTRAQ-based LC-MS/MS provides a valuable platform for plasma protein profiling and has important implications in identifying molecular markers relevant for the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. Using such an approach, we show its successful application in identifying differential fingerprints in SIV/HIV induced CNS disease.