Serum Protein Profiles as Potential Biomarkers for Infectious Disease Status

Serum protein profiles have potential for the detection and identification of viral infections in pigs before clinical signs of the disease become visible, according to researchers at Wageningen University.
calendar icon 12 April 2012
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In veterinary medicine and animal husbandry, there is a need for tools allowing the early warning of diseases, write Miriam G.J. Koene and colleagues at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. They continue that preferably, tests should be available that warn farmers and veterinarians during the incubation periods of disease and before the onset of clinical signs.

The objective of their study, published recently in BMC Veterinary Research, was to explore the potential of serum protein profiles as an early biomarker for infectious disease status.

Serum samples were obtained from an experimental pig model for porcine circovirus-associated disease (PCVAD), consisting of porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) infection in combination with either porcine parvovirus (PPV) or porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). Sera were collected before and after onset of clinical signs; on days 0, 5 and 19 post infection. Serum protein profiles were evaluated against sera from non-infected control animals.

Protein profiles were generated by SELDI-TOF mass spectrometry in combination with the ProteominerTM technology to enrich for low-abundance proteins. Based on these protein profiles, the experimentally infected pigs could be classified according to their infectious disease status.

Before the onset of clinical signs, 88 per cent of the infected animals could be classified correctly and 93 per cent after the onset of clinical signs.

The sensitivity of the classification appeared to be high. The protein profiles could distinguish between separate infection models, although specificity was moderate to low. Classification of PCV2/PRRSV–infected animals was superior to PCV2/PPV infected animals. Limiting the number of proteins in the profiles (ranging from 568 to 10) had only minor effects on the classification performance.

Koene and co-authors concluded that the study shows serum protein profiles have potential for detection and identification of viral infections in pigs before clinical signs of the disease become visible.


Koene M.G.J., H.A. Mulder, N. Stockhofe-Zurwieden, L. Kruijt and M.A. Smits. 2012. Serum protein profiles as potential biomarkers for infectious disease status in pigs. BMC Veterinary Research, 8:32. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-32

Further Reading

- You can view the full report (as a provisional PDF) by clicking here.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on the diseases mentioned in this article by clicking here.

April 2012
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