BACKGROUNDGold nanoparticles (AuNPs) scatter light intensely at or near their surface plasmon wavelength region. Using AuNPs coupled with dynamic light scattering (DLS) detection, we developed a facile nanoparticle immunoassay for serum protein biomarker detection and analysis. A serum sample was first mixed with a citrate-protected AuNP solution. Proteins from the serum were adsorbed to the AuNPs to form a protein corona on the nanoparticle surface. An antibody solution was then added to the assay solution to analyze the target proteins of interest that are present in the protein corona. The protein corona formation and the subsequent binding of antibody to the target proteins in the protein corona were detected by DLS.RESULTSUsing this simple assay, we discovered multiple molecular aberrations associated with prostate cancer from both mice and human blood serum samples. From the mice serum study, we observed difference in the size of the protein corona and mouse IgG level between different mice groups (i.e., mice with aggressive or less aggressive prostate cancer, and normal healthy controls). Furthermore, it was found from both the mice model and the human serum sample study that the level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF, a protein that is associated with tumor angiogenesis) adsorbed to the AuNPs is decreased in cancer samples compared to non-cancerous or less malignant cancer samples.CONCLUSIONThe molecular aberrations observed from this study may become new biomarkers for prostate cancer detection. The nanoparticle immunoassay reported here can be used as a convenient and general tool to screen and analyze serum proteins and to discover new biomarkers associated with cancer and other human diseases.