BACKGROUND: Currently, N-terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and its physiologically active counterpart, BNP, are most frequently used as biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and disease monitoring of heart failure (HF). Commercial NT-proBNP and BNP immunoassays cross-react to varying degrees with unprocessed proBNP, which is also found in the circulation. ProBNP processing and immunoassay response are related to O-linked glycosylation of NT-proBNP and proBNP. There is a clear and urgent need to identify the glycosylation sites in the endogenously circulating peptides requested by the community to gain further insights into the different naturally occurring forms.
METHODS: The glycosylation sites of (NT-) proBNP (NT-proBNP and/or proBNP) were characterized in leftovers of heparinized plasma samples of severe HF patients (NT-proBNP: >10000 ng/L) by using tandem immunoaffinity purification, sequential exoglycosidase treatment for glycan trimming, β-elimination and Michael addition chemistry, as well as high-resolution nano-flow liquid chromatography electrospray multistage mass spectrometry.
RESULTS: We describe 9 distinct glycosylation sites on circulating (NT-) proBNP in HF patients. Differentially glycosylated variants were detected based on highly accurate mass determination and multistage mass spectrometry. Remarkably, for each of the identified proteolytic glycopeptides, a nonglycosylated form also was detectable.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results directly demonstrate for the first time a rather complex distribution of the endogenously circulating glycoforms by mass spectrometric analysis in HF patients, and show 9 glycosites in human (NT-) proBNP. This information may also have an impact on commercial immunoassays applying antibodies specific for the central region of (NT-) proBNP, which detect mostly nonglycosylated forms.
- Received for publication August 13, 2016.
- Accepted for publication October 14, 2016.
- © 2016 American Association for Clinical Chemistry