de Souza, Tafarel Andrade, et al. “Eosinophilic esophagitis auxiliary diagnosis based on a peptide ligand to eosinophil cationic protein in esophageal mucus of pediatric patients.” Scientific Reports 12.1 (2022): 12226. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-16293-1
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the esophagus characterized by increased number of eosinophils. Currently, EoE diagnosis is based on endoscopic procedures for histopathological examination, eosinophils’ counting and, often, in clinical practice, the challenge is the differentiation between EoE and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Our aim was to develop novel peptide ligand to Eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) present in EoE biopsies of patients with potential to be used for detection. We performed a comparative proteomic analysis using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) of esophageal biopsies from pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease and control individuals. Then, phage display technology was used to select peptides against specific up-regulated protein from EoE patients. Twelve phage clones were selected after three biopanning rounds, and the best phage clone reactivity was evaluated by phage-ELISA assay using esophageal mucus samples from 94 pediatric patients. Mass spectrometry showed that eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) was one of the most up-regulated proteins in EoE patients, which is an eosinophil granule protein usually deposited on tissues to mediate remodeling, but in excess may cause fibrosis and hypertrophy, especially in allergic responses. A highly reactive ECP-ligand peptide (E5) was able to distinguish reactive mucus of EoE patients from GERD and the control individuals by Phage-ELISA, achieving a sensitivity of 84.62%, and a specificity of 82.72%. This is the first study that successfully demonstrated an antibody-like peptide targeting ECP at the esophagus mucus as a useful auxilliary tool for EoE diagnosis with a significant association with atopic disorders and dysphagia.