Urinary proteomics has become a topical and potentially valuable field of study in relation to normal and abnormal renal function. Filtered bioactive peptides present in high concentration in the nephron of patients with tubular proteinuria may have downstream effects on renal tubular function. In renal Fanconi syndromes, such as Dent's disease, peptides implicated in altered tubular function or injury have recently been measured in urine by immunochemical methods. However, the limited availability of antibodies means that only certain peptides can be detected in this way. We have used nanoflow liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (nanoLC-MS/MS) as a complementary technique to analyse urinary peptides. Urine was desalted by solid-phase extraction (SPE) and its peptides were then separated from neutral and acidic compounds by strong cation-exchange chromatography (SCX), which was also used to fractionate the peptide mixture. Fractions from the SCX step were separated further by reversed-phase LC and analysed on-line by MS/MS. Extraction by SPE showed a good recovery of small peptides. We detected over 100 molecular species in urine samples from three individuals with Dent's disease. In addition to plasma and known urinary proteins, we identified some novel proteins and potentially bioactive peptides in urine from these patients, which were not present in normal urine. These data show that nanoLC-MS/MS complements existing techniques for the identification of polypeptides in urine. This approach is a potentially powerful tool to discover new markers and/or causative factors in renal disease; in addition, its sensitivity may also make it applicable to the direct ultramicroanalysis of renal tubule fluid.

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