Objective: To screen for serum biomarkers of silicosis and to study their roles using surface-enhanced laser desorption ionization time-of-fly mass spectrometry (SELDI-TOF-MS) techniques.
Methods: The serum protein/peptide profile on the CM10 proteinchip was acquired using SELDI-TOF-MS from workers classified by the Chinese national diagnostic standard for pneumoconiosis. Discriminant analysis was performed to establish a decision tree using protein/peptide peaks.
Results: Protein/peptide peaks changed much more in silica-exposed populations than they did in the control. Discriminant analysis using Wilks' lambda method could give high sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing the silica-exposed population from the control; the decision tree could give 100% sensitivity and 95% specificity in distinguishing the silicosis phase among the control group.
Conclusions: Special proteins/peptides may change in silica-exposed workers and these changes may be used to distinguish silica-exposed populations from the control with the proper discriminant analytical method.