Background: Long-term outcomes for patients with adult idiopathic nephrotic syndrome correlate closely with steroid responsiveness. The aim of this prospective study was to evaluate the difference in serum proteomes between steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (SSNS) and steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) patients and identify potential biomarkers for the prediction of SRNS. Methods: We performed a gel-based proteomic study of serum obtained from SRNS and SSNS patients and healthy controls at the time of presentation (n = 6 for each group). Proteins from the serum samples were separated using 2-D electrophoresis, digested in-gel and subjected to MALDI-TOF-MS/MS analysis. Further validation was performed utilizing Western blot and ELISA. The sensitivities and specificities of the candidate proteins for predicting SRNS were determined using receiver operating characteristic curves. Results: Thirteen differentially expressed proteins were identified as haptoglobin (Hp) with different isoelectric points and molecular weights. Western blot and ELISA analysis of samples from 146 subjects (healthy controls = 52, SSNS = 54, SRNS = 40) showed a markedly increased level of Hp in the serum, but not urine, of SRNS compared to SSNS patients. The optimal serum cutoff level of Hp was set at ≥1,279 µg/ml using the receiver operating characteristic curve. The sensitivity and specificity for predicting SRNS were 85.0 and 96.3%, respectively. Conclusions: This study provides a novel overview of the difference in serum proteomes of SSNS and SRNS patients. Serum Hp may be a useful predictive biomarker for steroid therapy efficacy in the treatment of idiopathic nephrotic syndrome.

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