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A UHPLC/MS/MS Assay Based on an Isotope-Labeled Peptide for Sensitive miR-21 Detection in HCC Serum

Xinyue Wang1,#, Jing Xu1,#, Qihong Gu1, Dingxuan Tang1, Huoyan Ji2, Shaoqing Ju2, Feng Wang2,*, Lin Chen3, Ruoyu Yuan2,*

1 Department of Laboratory Medicine, School of Public Health, Nantong University, Nantong, 226001, China
2 Department of Clinical Laboratory, Affiliated Hospital of Nantong University, Nantong, 226001, China
3 Department of Hepatology Laboratory, Nantong Third Hospital Affiliated to Nantong University, Nantong, 226006, China

* Corresponding Authors: Feng Wang. Email: ; Ruoyu Yuan. Email:
# These authors contributed equally to this work.

Oncologie 2022, 24(3), 513-526.


Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been identified as promising novel biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and prognosis, especially for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Nowadays, the expression level of miR-21 in serum samples is a diagnostic indicator for HCC diagnosis. Thus, the quantitative determination of miRNA concentration is of significance in clinical practice. It is particularly important to establish an analytical detection method for miR-21 in patient serum. Methods: The signal readout for miR-21 was based on the mass response of a reporter peptide using an isotope dilution mass spectrometry (MS) method in this work. To be more specific, miR-21 was biotinylated before being coupled with streptavidin (SA) agarose and then hybridized with a newly synthesized DNA-peptide probe. The release and purification of the sample was based on the method including trypsin digestion, solid-phase extraction, and drying, and the detection of the reporter peptide was carried out by UHPLC/MS/MS. The miR-21 in the corresponding samples was quantified by the ratio of the chromatographic peak area of the redissolved polypeptide to that of the isotope-labeled polypeptide. Additionally, within the calibration range, the performance of the method (including precision, accuracy, linearity, and recovery) was evaluated. Results: The concentration of miR-21 was determined using the ratio of relative peak area of stable isotope-labeled internal standard and reporter peptide, yielding a linear range of 0.1∼30.0 nM (y = 0.0818x + 0.7554, R2 = 0.9586, P < 0.01). The limit of detection (LOD) for miR-21 was 10 pM. For y5 , the recoveries (n = 3) were 91.36 ± 2.19%, 93.64 ± 3.55%, and 96.04 ± 2.02% for the levels of three miR-21 samples including RL, RM, and RH, respectively. Conclusions: Overall, this research provides a novel analytical approach for quantitative detection of miRNAs in clinical serum samples.


Cite This Article

Wang, X., Xu, J., Gu, Q., Tang, D., Ji, H. et al. (2022). A UHPLC/MS/MS Assay Based on an Isotope-Labeled Peptide for Sensitive miR-21 Detection in HCC Serum. Oncologie, 24(3), 513–526.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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