Bacteremia—i.e., the presence of pathogens in the blood stream—is associated with long-term morbidity and is a potential precursor condition to life-threatening sepsis. Timely detection of bacteremia is therefore critical to reduce patient mortality, but existing methods lack precision, speed, and sensitivity to effectively stratify bacteremic patients. Herein, we tested the potential of quantitative serum N-glycomics performed using porous graphitized carbon liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry to stratify bacteremic patients infected with Escherichia coli (n = 11), Staphylococcus aureus (n = 11), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (n = 5), and Streptococcus viridans (n = 5) from healthy donors (n = 39). In total, 62 N-glycan isomers spanning 41 glycan compositions primarily comprising complex-type core fucosylated, bisecting N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), and α2,3-/α2,6-sialylated structures were profiled across all samples using label-free quantitation. Excitingly, unsupervised hierarchical clustering and principal component analysis of the serum N-glycome data accurately separated the patient groups. P. aeruginosa-infected patients displayed prominent N-glycome aberrations involving elevated levels of fucosylation and bisecting GlcNAcylation and reduced sialylation relative to other bacteremic patients. Notably, receiver operating characteristic analyses demonstrated that a single N-glycan isomer could effectively stratify each of the four bacteremic patient groups from the healthy donors (area under the curve 0.93–1.00). Thus, the serum N-glycome represents a new hitherto unexplored class of potential diagnostic markers for bloodstream infections.
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- mass spectrometry
- porous graphitized carbon