Quantification of intermediate-abundance proteins in serum by multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry in a single-quadrupole ion trap

Anal Chem. 2006 Aug 15;78(16):5762-7. doi: 10.1021/ac060613f.


A method is presented to quantify intermediate-abundance proteins in human serum using a single-quadrupole linear ion trap mass spectrometer-in contrast, for example, to a triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer. Stable-isotope-labeled (tryptic) peptides are spiked into digested protein samples as internal standards, aligned with the traditional isotope dilution approach. As a proof-of-concept experiment, four proteins of intermediate abundance were selected, coagulation factor V, adiponectin, C-reactive protein (CRP), and thyroxine binding globulin. Stable-isotope-labeled peptides were synthesized with one tryptic sequence from each of these proteins. The normal human serum concentration ranges of these proteins are from 1 to 30 microg/mL (or 20 to 650 pmol/mL). These labeled peptides and their endogenous counterparts were analyzed by LC-MS/MS using multiple reaction monitoring, a multiplexed form of the selected reaction monitoring technique. For these experiments, only one chromatographic dimension (on-line reversed-phase capillary column) was used. Improved limits of detection will result with multidimensional chromatographic methods utilizing more material per sample. Standard curves of the spiked calibrants were generated with concentrations ranging from 3 to 700 pmol/mL using both neat solutions and peptides spiked into the complex matrix of digested serum protein solution where ion suppression effects and interferences are common. Endogenous protein concentrations were determined by comparing MS/MS peak areas of the endogenous peptides to the isotopically labeled internal calibrants. The derived concentrations from a normal human serum pool (neglecting loss of material during sample processing) were 9.2, 110, 120, and 246 pmol/mL for coagulation factor V, adiponectin, CRP, and thyroxine binding globulin, respectively. These concentrations generally agree with the reported normal ranges for these proteins. As a measure of analytical reproducibility of this single-quadrupole assay, the coefficients of variance based on 12 repeated measurements for each of the endogenous tryptic peptides were 17.0, 25.4, 24.2, and 14.0% for coagulation factor V, adiponectin, CRP, and thyroxine binding globulin, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Proteins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Trypsin / pharmacology


  • Blood Proteins
  • Trypsin