The reproducibility of mass spectrometry (MS) data collected using surface enhanced laser desorption/ionization-time of flight (SELDI-TOF) has been questioned. This investigation was designed to test the reproducibility of SELDI data collected over time by multiple users and instruments. Five laboratories prepared arrays once every week for six weeks. Spectra were collected on separate instruments in the individual laboratories. Additionally, all of the arrays produced each week were rescanned on a single instrument in one laboratory. Lab-to-lab and array-to-array variability in alignment parameters were larger than the variability attributable to running samples during different weeks. The coefficient of variance (CV) in spectrum intensity ranged from 25% at baseline, to 80% in the matrix noise region, to about 50% during the exponential drop from the maximum matrix noise. Before normalization, the median CV of the peak heights was 72% and reduced to about 20% after normalization. Additionally, for the spectra from a common instrument, the CV ranged from 5% at baseline, to 50% in the matrix noise region, to 20% during the drop from the maximum matrix noise. Normalization reduced the variability in peak heights to about 18%. With proper processing methods, SELDI instruments produce spectra containing large numbers of reproducibly located peaks, with consistent heights.
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