Identification of post-translational modifications of proteins in biological samples often requires access to preanalytical purification and concentration methods. In the purification step high or low molecular weight substances can be removed by size exclusion filters, and high abundant proteins can be removed, or low abundant proteins can be enriched, by specific capturing tools. In this paper is described the experience and results obtained with a recently emerged and easy-to-use affinity purification kit for enrichment of the low amounts of EPO found in urine and plasma specimens. The kit can be used as a pre-step in the EPO doping control procedure, as an alternative to the commonly used ultrafiltration, for detecting aberrantly glycosylated isoforms. The commercially available affinity purification kit contains small disposable anti-EPO monolith columns (6 μL volume, Ø7 mm, length 0.15 mm) together with all required buffers. A 24-channel vacuum manifold was used for simultaneous processing of samples. The column concentrated EPO from 20 mL urine down to 55 μL eluate with a concentration factor of 240 times, while roughly 99.7% of non-relevant urine proteins were removed. The recoveries of Neorecormon (epoetin beta), and the EPO analogues Aranesp and Mircera applied to buffer were high, 76%, 67% and 57%, respectively. The recovery of endogenous EPO from human urine was 65%. High recoveries were also obtained when purifying human, mouse and equine EPO from serum, and human EPO from cerebrospinal fluid. Evaluation with the accredited EPO doping control method based on isoelectric focusing (IEF) showed that the affinity purification procedure did not change the isoform distribution for rhEPO, Aranesp, Mircera or endogenous EPO. The kit should be particularly useful for applications in which it is essential to avoid carry-over effects, a problem commonly encountered with conventional particle-based affinity columns. The encouraging results with EPO propose that similar affinity monoliths, with the appropriate antibodies, should constitute useful tools for general applications in sample preparation, not only for doping control of EPO and other hormones such as growth hormone and insulin but also for the study of post-translational modifications of other low abundance proteins in biological and clinical research, and for sample preparation prior to in vitro diagnostics. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
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