Product(s) used in this publication: Reference Peptides for Targeted Proteomics - SpikeTides™ & SpikeMix™
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is frequently diagnosed incidentally as an early-stage small renal mass (SRM; pT1a, ≤ 4 cm). Overtreatment of patients with benign or clinically indolent SRMs is increasingly common and has resulted in a recent shift in treatment recommendations. There are currently no available biomarkers that can accurately predict clinical behaviour. Therefore, we set out to identify early biomarkers of RCC progression. We employed a quantitative label-free LC-MS/MS proteomics approach and targeted parallel-reaction monitoring to identify and validate early, non-invasive urinary biomarkers for RCC-SRMs. In total, we evaluated 115 urine samples, including 33 renal oncocytoma (≤ 4 cm) cases, 30 progressive and 26 non-progressive clear cell RCC-SRM cases, in addition to 26 healthy controls. We identified six proteins which displayed significantly elevated expression in clear cell RCC-SRMs (ccRCC-SRMs) relative to healthy controls. Proteins C12ORF49 and EHD4 showed significantly elevated expression in ccRCC-SRMs compared to renal oncocytoma (≤ 4 cm). Additionally, proteins EPS8L2, CHMP2A, PDCD6IP, CNDP2, and CEACAM1 displayed significantly elevated expression in progressive relative to non-progressive ccRCC-SRMs. A two-protein signature (EPS8L2 and CCT6A) showed significant discriminatory ability (AUC: 0.81, 95% CI: 0.70 to 0.93) in distinguishing progressive from non-progressive ccRCC-SRMs. Patients (stage I-IV) with EPS8L2 and CCT6A mRNA alterations showed significantly shorter overall survival (OS; p = 1.407 x 10-6 ) compared to patients with no alterations. Our in-depth proteomic analysis identified novel biomarkers for early-stage RCC-SRMs. Pretreatment characterization of urinary proteins may provide insight into early RCC progression and could potentially help assign patients to appropriate management strategies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.