Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) is a chronic and debilitating pain disorder of the bladder and urinary tract with poorly understood etiology. A definitive diagnosis of IC/BPS can be challenging because many symptoms are shared with other urological disorders. An analysis of urine presents an attractive and non-invasive resource for monitoring and diagnosing IC/BPS. The antiproliferative factor (APF) peptide has been previously identified in the urine of IC/BPS patients and is a proposed biomarker for the disorder. Nevertheless, other small urinary peptides have remained uninvestigated in IC/BPS primarily because protein biomarker discovery efforts employ protocols that remove small endogenous peptides. The purpose of this study is to investigate the profile of endogenous peptides in IC/BPS patient urine, with the goal of identifying putative peptide biomarkers. Here, a non-targeted peptidomics analysis of urine samples collected from IC/BPS patients were compared to urine samples from asymptomatic controls. Our results show a general increase in the abundance of urinary peptides in IC/BPS patients, which is consistent with an increase in inflammation and protease activity characteristic of this disorder. In total, 71 peptides generated from 39 different proteins were found to be significantly altered in IC/BPS. Five urinary peptides with high variable importance in projection (VIP) coefficients were found to reliably differentiate IC/BPS from healthy controls by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. In parallel, we also developed a targeted multiple reaction monitoring method to quantify the relative abundance of the APF peptide from patient urine samples. Although the APF peptide was found in moderately higher abundance in IC/BPS relative to control urine, our results show that the APF peptide was inconsistently present in urine, suggesting that its utility as a sole biomarker of IC/BPS may be limited. Overall, our results revealed new insights into the profile of urinary peptides in IC/BPS that will aid in future biomarker discovery and validation efforts.
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