Proteomics of blood-based therapeutics: a promising tool for quality assurance in transfusion medicine

BioDrugs. 2007;21(3):179-93. doi: 10.2165/00063030-200721030-00005.


Blood-based therapeutics are cellular or plasma components derived from human blood. Their production requires appropriate selection and treatment of the donor and processing of cells or plasma proteins. In contrast to clearly defined, chemically synthesized drugs, blood-derived therapeutics are highly complex mixtures of plasma proteins or even more complex cells. Pathogen transmission by the product as well as changes in the integrity of blood constituents resulting in loss of function or immune modulation are currently important issues in transfusion medicine. Protein modifications can occur during various steps of the production process, such as acquisition, enrichment of separate components (e.g. coagulation factors, cell populations), virus inactivation, conservation, and storage. Contemporary proteomic strategies allow a comprehensive assessment of protein modifications with high coverage, offer capabilities for qualitative and even quantitative analysis, and for high-throughput protein identification. Traditionally, proteomics approaches predominantly relied on two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE). Even if 2-DE is still state of the art, it has inherent limitations that are mainly based on the physicochemical properties of the proteins analyzed; for example, proteins with extremes in molecular mass and hydrophobicity (most membrane proteins) are difficult to assess by 2-DE. These limitations have fostered the development of mass spectrometry centered on non-gel-based separation approaches, which have proven to be highly successful and are thus complementing and even partially replacing 2-DE-based approaches. Although blood constituents have been extensively analyzed by proteomics, this technology has not been widely applied to assess or even improve blood-derived therapeutics, or to monitor the production processes. As proteomic technologies have the capacity to provide comprehensive information about changes occurring during processing and storage of blood products, proteomics can potentially guide improvement of pathogen inactivation procedures and engineering of stem cells, and may also allow a better understanding of factors influencing the immunogenicity of blood-derived therapeutics. An important development in proteomics is the reduction of inter-assay variability. This now allows the screening of samples taken from the same product over time or before and after processing. Optimized preparation procedures and storage conditions will reduce the risk of protein alterations, which in turn may contribute to better recovery, reduced exposure to allogeneic proteins, and increased transfusion safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Component Transfusion
  • Blood Platelets / physiology
  • Blood Proteins / genetics*
  • Blood Transfusion / standards*
  • Blood*
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Immunoglobulins / therapeutic use
  • Plasma
  • Proteomics*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care


  • Blood Proteins
  • Immunoglobulins