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Evaluating the potential of a novel oral lesion exudate collection method coupled with mass spectrometry-based proteomics for oral cancer biomarker discovery

Joel A Kooren1, Nelson L Rhodus2, Chuanning Tang1, Pratik D Jagtap3, Bryan J Horrigan1 and Timothy J Griffin1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, University of Minnesota, 321 Church St SE, 6-155 Jackson Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55455, USA

2 Oral Medicine, Diagnosis and Radiology, School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, 515 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55455, USA

3 Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, University of Minnesota, 117 Pleasant Street SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55455, USA

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Clinical Proteomics 2011, 8:13  doi:10.1186/1559-0275-8-13

Published: 13 September 2011



Early diagnosis of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC) increases the survival rate of oral cancer. For early diagnosis, molecular biomarkers contained in samples collected non-invasively and directly from at-risk oral premalignant lesions (OPMLs) would be ideal.


In this pilot study we evaluated the potential of a novel method using commercial PerioPaper absorbent strips for non-invasive collection of oral lesion exudate material coupled with mass spectrometry-based proteomics for oral cancer biomarker discovery.


Our evaluation focused on three core issues. First, using an "on-strip" processing method, we found that protein can be isolated from exudate samples in amounts compatible with large-scale mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis. Second, we found that the OPML exudate proteome was distinct from that of whole saliva, while being similar to the OPML epithelial cell proteome, demonstrating the fidelity of our exudate collection method. Third, in a proof-of-principle study, we identified numerous, inflammation-associated proteins showing an expected increase in abundance in OPML exudates compared to healthy oral tissue exudates. These results demonstrate the feasibility of identifying differentially abundant proteins from exudate samples, which is essential for biomarker discovery studies.


Collectively, our findings demonstrate that our exudate collection method coupled with mass spectrometry-based proteomics has great potential for transforming OSCC biomarker discovery and clinical diagnostics assay development.

Oral Pre-Malignant Lesion (OPML); Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC); exudate; mass spectrometry-based proteomics; biomarker