The analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is used in biomarker discovery studies for various neurodegenerative central nervous system (CNS) disorders. However, little is known about variation of CSF proteins and metabolites between patients without neurological disorders. A baseline for a large number of CSF compounds appears to be lacking. To analyze the variation in CSF protein and metabolite abundances in a number of well-defined individual samples of patients undergoing routine, non-neurological surgical procedures, we determined the variation of various proteins and metabolites by multiple analytical platforms. A total of 126 common proteins were assessed for biological variations between individuals by ESI-Orbitrap. A large spread in inter-individual variation was observed (relative standard deviations [RSDs] ranged from 18 to 148%) for proteins with both high abundance and low abundance. Technical variation was between 15 and 30% for all 126 proteins. Metabolomics analysis was performed by means of GC-MS and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging and amino acids were specifically analyzed by LC-MS/MS, resulting in the detection of more than 100 metabolites. The variation in the metabolome appears to be much more limited compared with the proteome: the observed RSDs ranged from 12 to 70%. Technical variation was less than 20% for almost all metabolites. Consequently, an understanding of the biological variation of proteins and metabolites in CSF of neurologically normal individuals appears to be essential for reliable interpretation of biomarker discovery studies for CNS disorders because such results may be influenced by natural inter-individual variations. Therefore, proteins and metabolites with high variation between individuals ought to be assessed with caution as candidate biomarkers because at least part of the difference observed between the diseased individuals and the controls will not be caused by the disease, but rather by the natural biological variation between individuals. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics 9:2063-2075, 2010.
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