Discriminatory proteomic biomarker analysis identifies free hemoglobin in the cerebrospinal fluid of women with severe preeclampsia

Errol R. Norwitz, Lawrence C. Tsen, Shin Park Joong, Patricia A. Fitzpatrick, David M. Dorfman, George R. Saade, Catalin S. Buhimschi, Irina A. Buhimschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Objective: Preeclampsia is an idiopathic multisystem disorder specific to human pregnancy. This study used proteomic analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to identify protein biomarkers characteristic of preeclampsia and related to its severity. Study design: CSF was collected from women diagnosed clinically with severe preeclampsia (sPE: n = 7), mild preeclampsia (mPE: n = 8), and normotensive controls (CRL: n = 8). Samples were subjected to proteomic analysis using surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (SELDI-TOF) mass spectroscopy. A discriminative proteomic biomarker profile was extracted by applying Mass Restricted analysis, and a Preeclampsia Proteomic Biomarker (PPB) score developed based on the presence or absence of four discriminatory protein peaks in individual CSF SELDI tracings. In-gel tryptic digests, Western blot analysis, on-chip immunoassays, ELISA, and spectral analysis were used to identify the biomarkers composing the PPB score. Results: PPB score distinguished patients with a clinical diagnosis of sPE from mPE and CRLs. (PPB median [range]: sPE: 4 [0-4] vs mPE: 1 [0-1] vs CRL: 0 [0-0]; P < 0.001). PPB scores were unaffected by parity, magnesium seizure prophylaxis, CSF leukocyte counts, and total protein content. Proteomic identification techniques matched the discriminatory protein peaks to the α- and β-hemoglobin chains. ELISA confirmed that women diagnosed clinically with sPE had significantly higher CSF hemoglobin concentrations than women with mPE or CRL (median [range]: sPE: 6.6 [0.0-10.3] μg/mL vs mPE: 0 [0-1.3] μg/mL vs CRL: 0 [0-0] μg/mL; P < 0.001). Conclusion: Proteomic analysis of CSF can accurately distinguish sPE from both mPE and CRL. Patients with sPE have nanomolar amounts of free hemoglobin in their CSF. Further studies are needed to confirm these observations and determine their physiologic implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-964
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Hemoglobin
  • Human pregnancy
  • Preeclampsia
  • Proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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