Protein aggregation: pathways, induction factors and analysis

J Pharm Sci. 2009 Sep;98(9):2909-34. doi: 10.1002/jps.21566.


Control and analysis of protein aggregation is an increasing challenge to pharmaceutical research and development. Due to the nature of protein interactions, protein aggregation may occur at various points throughout the lifetime of a protein and may be of different quantity and quality such as size, shape, morphology. It is therefore important to understand the interactions, causes and analyses of such aggregates in order to control protein aggregation to enable successful products. This review gives a short outline of currently discussed pathways and induction methods for protein aggregation and describes currently employed set of analytical techniques and emerging technologies for aggregate detection, characterization and quantification. A major challenge for the analysis of protein aggregates is that no single analytical method exists to cover the entire size range or type of aggregates which may appear. Each analytical method not only shows its specific advantages but also has its limitations. The limits of detection and the possibility of creating artifacts through sample preparation by inducing or destroying aggregates need to be considered with each method used. Therefore, it may also be advisable to carefully compare analytical results of orthogonal methods for similar size ranges to evaluate method performance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods*
  • Protein Stability*
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Proteins / chemistry


  • Proteins