Supplementary Material for: Biomarker Discovery in Serum from Patients with Carotid Atherosclerosis

Background: Blood-based biomarkers of atherosclerosis have been used to identify patients at high risk for developing stroke. We hypothesized that patients with carotid artery disease would have a distinctive proteomic signature in blood as compared to a healthy control population without carotid artery disease. In order to discover protein biomarkers associated with increased atherosclerotic risk, we used two different strategies to identify biomarkers from patients with clinically defined atherosclerosis who were undergoing endarterectomy for atherosclerotic carotid artery disease. These patients were compared with healthy matched controls. Methods: Serum was obtained from patients undergoing endarterectomy (EA; n = 38) and compared to a group of age-matched healthy controls (n = 40). Serum was fractionated using anion exchange chromatography and three different surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization (SELDI) chip surfaces and then evaluated with mass spectrometry (MS) and two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE). Results: A random forest (RF) analysis of the SELDI-MS protein peak data distinguished these two groups with 69.2% sensitivity and 73.2% specificity. Four unique SELDI peaks (4.2, 4.4, 16.7 and 28 kDa, all p< 0.01) showed the greatest influence in the RF model. The EA patients with a history of prior clinical atherosclerotic plaque rupture manifested as either stroke or transient ischemic attack (symptomatic; n = 16) were compared to patients with carotid atherosclerosis but no clinical evidence of plaque rupture (asymptomatic; n = 22). Analysis of the SELDI spectra did not separate these two patient subgroups. A subgroup analysis using 2D-DIGE images obtained from albumin-depleted serum comparing symptomatic (n = 10) to asymptomatic EA patients (n = 10) found 4 proteins that were differentially expressed (p < 0.01) in the symptomatic patients. These proteins were identified as α1-antitrypsin, haptoglobin and vitamin D binding protein that were downregulated and α2-glycoprotein precursor that was upregulated in the symptomatic EA group. Conclusions: SELDI-MS data analysis of fractionated serum suggests that a distinct protein signature exists in patients with carotid atherosclerosis compared to age-matched healthy controls. Identification of 4 proteins in a subset of patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid atherosclerosis suggests that these and other protein biomarkers may assist in identifying high-risk patients with carotid atherosclerosis.