Urine Proteome Analysis Reflects Atherosclerotic Disease in an ApoE−/−Mouse Model and Allows the Discovery of New Candidate Biomarkers in Mouse and Human Atherosclerosis Academic Article uri icon


  • Noninvasive diagnosis of atherosclerosis via single biomarkers has been attempted but remains elusive. However, a previous polymarker or pattern approach of urine polypeptides in humans reflected coronary artery disease with high accuracy. The aim of the current study is to use urine proteomics in ApoE(-/-) mice to discover proteins with pathophysiological roles in atherogenesis and to identify urinary polypeptide patterns reflecting early stages of atherosclerosis. Urine of ApoE(-/-) mice either on high fat diet (HFD) or chow diet was collected over 12 weeks; urine of wild type mice on HFD was used to exclude diet-related proteome changes. Capillary electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry (CE-MS) of samples identified 16 polypeptides specific for ApoE(-/-) mice on HFD. In a blinded test set, these polypeptides allowed identification of atherosclerosis at a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 100%, as well as monitoring of disease progression. Sequencing of the discovered polypeptides identified fragments of α(1)-antitrypsin, epidermal growth factor (EGF), kidney androgen-regulated protein, and collagen. Using immunohistochemistry, α(1)-antitrypsin, EGF, and collagen type I were shown to be highly expressed in atherosclerotic plaques of ApoE(-/-) mice on HFD. Urinary excretion levels of collagen and α(1)-antitrypsin fragments also significantly correlated with intraplaque collagen and α(1)-antitrypsin content, mirroring plaque protein expression in the urine proteome. To provide further confirmation that the newly identified proteins are relevant in humans, the presence of collagen type I, α(1)-antitrypsin, and EGF was also confirmed in human atherosclerotic disease. Urine proteome analysis in mice exemplifies the potential of a novel multimarker approach for the noninvasive detection of atherosclerosis and monitoring of disease progression. Furthermore, this approach represents a novel discovery tool for the identification of proteins relevant in murine and human atherosclerosis and thus also defines potential novel therapeutic targets.


  • von zur Muhlen, Constantin
  • Schiffer, Eric
  • Sackmann, Christine
  • Zürbig, Petra
  • Neudorfer, Irene
  • Zirlik, Andreas
  • Htun, Nay
  • Iphöfer, Alexander
  • Jänsch, Lothar
  • Mischak, Harald
  • Bode, Christoph
  • Chen, Yung C
  • Peter, Karlheinz

publication date

  • July 2012

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