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Optimization and Standardization of Human Saliva Collection for MALDI-TOF MS

Published: 21 July 2021
 by  MDPI
Diagnostics , Volume 11; doi:10.3390/diagnostics11081304

Abstract: SARS-CoV-2 outbreak led to unprecedented innovative scientific research to preclude the virus dissemination and limit its impact on life expectancy. Waiting for the collective immunity by vaccination, mass-testing, and isolation of positive cases remain essential. The development of a diagnosis method requiring a simple and non-invasive sampling with a quick and low-cost approach is on demand. We hypothesized that the combination of saliva specimens with MALDI-TOF MS profiling analyses could be the winning duo. Before characterizing MS saliva signatures associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, optimization and standardization of sample collection, preparation and storage up to MS analyses appeared compulsory. In this view, successive experiments were performed on saliva from healthy healthcare workers. Specimen sampling with a roll cotton of Salivette® devices appeared the most appropriate collection mode. Saliva protein precipitation with organic buffers did not improved MS spectra profiles compared to a direct loading of samples mixed with acetonitrile/formic acid buffer onto MS plate. The assessment of sample storage conditions and duration revealed that saliva should be stored on ice until MS analysis, which should occur on the day of sampling. Kinetic collection of saliva highlighted reproducibility of saliva MS profiles over four successive days and also at two-week intervals. The intra-individual stability of saliva MS profiles should be a key factor in the future investigation for biomarkers associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, the singularity of MS profiles between individuals will require the development of sophisticated bio-statistical analyses such as machine learning approaches. MALDI-TOF MS profiling of saliva could be a promising PCR-free tool for SARS-CoV-2 screening.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis / saliva / MS profiling / standardization

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