Utilizing human blood plasma for proteomic biomarker discovery

J Proteome Res. 2005 Jul-Aug;4(4):1073-85. doi: 10.1021/pr0500657.


Candidate proteomic biomarker discovery from human plasma holds both incredible clinical potential as well as significant challenges. The dynamic range of proteins within plasma is known to exceed 10(10), and many potential biomarkers are likely present at lower protein abundances. At present, proteomic based MS analyses provide a dynamic range typically not exceeding approximately 10(3) in a single spectrum, and approximately 10(4)-10(6) when combined with on-line separations (e.g., reversed-phase gradient liquid chromatography), and thus are generally insufficient for low level biomarker detection directly from human plasma. This limitation is providing an impetus for the development of experimental methodologies and strategies to increase the possible number of detections within this biofluid. Discussed is the diversity of available approaches currently used by our laboratory and others to utilize human plasma as a viable medium for biomarker discovery. Various separation, depletion, enrichment, and quantitative efforts as well as recent improvements in MS capabilities have resulted in measurable improvements in the detection and identification of lower abundance proteins (by approximately 10-10(2)). Despite these improvements, further advances are needed to provide a basis for discovery of candidate biomarkers at very low levels. Continued development of depletion and enrichment techniques, coupled with improved pre-MS separations (both at the protein and peptide level) holds promise in extending the dynamic range of proteomic analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Plasma / chemistry*
  • Proteome / analysis
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteome