Monitoring plasma protein aggregation during aging using conformation specific antibodies and FTIR spectroscopy


The loss of proteostasis during aging has been well described using different models, however little is known with respect to protein aggregation levels in biofluids with aging. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the pattern of age-related protein aggregation in human plasma using two distinct approaches: analysis with conformation-specific antibodies and FTIR spectroscopy. The latter has been widely used in biomedical research to study protein conformational changes in health and disease. Samples from a primary care based-cohort from the Aveiro region, Portugal, were used for slot-blot analyses followed by immunodetection with conformation-specific antibodies and for the acquisition of FTIR spectra. Immunoblot analyses revealed an age-dependent evolution of the protein conformational profile in human plasma, towards a decrease in prefibrillar oligomers and an increase in fibrillar structures. This finding was also supported by PLS-R multivariate analysis of FTIR data, where a positive correlation between the age of the donors and secondary structure of plasma proteins could be observed. Samples from younger donors are characterized by antiparallel beta-sheet-containing structures while intermolecular beta-sheets characterized older samples. Exclusion of age-associated co-morbidities improved the correlation between protein conformational profiles and aging. The results reveal structural changes in human plasma proteins from middle to old age, confirming the age-associated changes in protein aggregation, and support the applicability of FTIR as a reliable approach to study proteostasis during aging.



subject category

Medical Laboratory Technology


Magalhaes, S; Trindade, D; Martins, T; Rosa, IM; Delgadillo, I; Goodfellow, BJ; Silva, OABDE; Henriques, AG; Nunes, A

our authors


This work was supported by Fundacao para a Ciencia e Tecnologia (FCT) I.P. (PIDDAC), European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) (project numbers UID/BIM/04501/2013 and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007628; PTDC/DTP-PIC/5587/2014 and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016904; UID/CTM/50011/2013 and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007679; and pAGE (CENTRO-01-0145-FEDER-000003)). SM is also supported by FCT (grant number SFRH/BD/131820/2017).

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