Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) affects more than one million children, is responsible for several hundred child deaths every year in China and is the cause of widespread concerns in society. Only a small fraction of HFMD cases will develop further into severe HFMD with neurologic complications. A timely and accurate diagnosis of severe HFMD is essential for assessing the risk of progression and planning the appropriate treatment. Human serum can reflect the physiological or pathological states, which is expected to be an excellent source of disease-specific biomarkers. In the present study, a comparative serological proteome analysis between severe HFMD patients and healthy controls was performed via a two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) strategy. Fifteen proteins were identified as differentially expressed in the sera of the severe HFMD patients compared with the controls. The identified proteins were classified into different groups according to their molecular functions, biological processes, protein classes and physiological pathways by bioinformatics analysis. The up-regulations of two identified proteins, serum amyloid A (SAA) and clusterin (CLU), were confirmed in the sera of the HFMD patients by ELISA assay. This study not only increases our background knowledge about and scientific insight into the mechanisms of HFMD, but also reveals novel potential biomarkers for the clinical diagnosis of severe HFMD.
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