Changes in the urinary extracellular vesicle proteome are associated with nephronophthisis-related ciliopathies

Nephronophthisis is one of the leading genetic causes of end-stage renal disease in childhood. Early diagnostics and prognostics for nephronophthisis are currently limited. We aimed to identify non-invasive protein biomarkers for nephronophthisis in urinary extracellular vesicles. Extracellular vesicles were isolated from urine of 12 patients with a nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy and 12 age- and gender-matched controls, followed by in-depth label-free LC-MS/MS proteomics analysis of gel fractionated extracellular vesicles proteins. Supervised cluster analysis of proteomic profiles separated patients from controls. We identified 156 differentially expressed proteins with fold change ≥4 in patients compared to controls (P < .05). Importantly, expression levels of discriminating proteins were correlated with chronic kidney disease stage, suggesting possible applications for urinary extracellular vesicle biomarkers in prognostics for nephronophthisis. Enrichment analysis of gene ontology terms revealed GO terms including signaling, actin cytoskeleton and endocytosis among the downregulated proteins in patients, whereas terms related to response to wounding and extracellular matrix organization were enriched among upregulated proteins. Our findings represent the first step towards a non-invasive diagnostic test for nephronophthisis. Further research is needed to determine specificity of the candidate biomarkers. In conclusion, proteomic profiles of urinary extracellular vesicles differentiate nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy patients from healthy controls.

Nephronophthisis is an important cause of end-stage renal disease in children and is associated with an average diagnostic delay of 3.5 years. This is the first study investigating candidate biomarkers for nephronophthisis using global proteomics analysis of urinary extracellular vesicles in patients with nephronophthisis compared to control individuals. We show that measuring protein markers in urinary extracellular vesicles is a promising approach for non-invasive early diagnostics of nephronophthisis.

Journal of proteomics. 2018 Jul 30 [Epub ahead of print]

Marijn F Stokman, Irene V Bijnsdorp, Tim Schelfhorst, Thang V Pham, Sander R Piersma, Jaco C Knol, Rachel H Giles, Ernie M H F Bongers, Nine V A M Knoers, Marc R Lilien, Connie R Jiménez, Kirsten Y Renkema

Department of Genetics, Center for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands., Department of Urology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands., OncoProteomics Laboratory, Department of Medical Oncology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands., Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, University Medical Center Utrecht, Regenerative Medicine Center-Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, the Netherlands., Department of Human Genetics, Radboud university medical center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands., Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands., OncoProteomics Laboratory, Department of Medical Oncology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address: ., Department of Genetics, Center for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Electronic address: .

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