Rarity gives a charm: evaluation of trace proteins in plasma and serum

Expert Rev Proteomics. 2005 Jun;2(3):393-406. doi: 10.1586/14789450.2.3.393.


Since plasma potentially contacts every cell as it circulates through the body, it may carry clues both to diagnosis and treatment of disease. It is commonly expected that the growing ability to detect and characterize trace proteins will result in discovery of novel therapeutics and biomarkers; however, the familiar, super-abundant plasma proteins remain a fundamental stumbling block. Furthermore, robust validation of proteomic data is a sometimes overlooked but always necessary component for the eventual development of clinical reagents. This review surveys some of the uses of typical and atypical low-abundance proteins, current analytical methods, existing impediments to discovery, and some innovations that are overcoming the challenges to evaluation of trace proteins in plasma and serum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Proteins / analysis*
  • Blood Proteins / classification
  • Blood Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Blood Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / blood
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Immunoglobulins / therapeutic use
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Therapeutics / methods


  • Blood Proteins
  • Immunoglobulins