Capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry as a powerful tool in biomarker discovery and clinical diagnosis: an update of recent developments

Mass Spectrom Rev. 2009 Sep-Oct;28(5):703-24. doi: 10.1002/mas.20205.


Proteome analysis has emerged as a powerful technology to decipher biological processes. One of the main goals is to discover biomarkers for diseases from tissues and body fluids. However, the complexity and wide dynamic range of protein expression present an enormous challenge to separation technologies and mass spectrometry (MS). In this review, we examine the limitations of proteomics, and aim towards the definition of the current key prerequisites. We focus on capillary electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry (CE-MS), because this technique continues to show great promise. We discuss CE-MS from an application point of view, and evaluate its merits and vices for biomarker discovery and clinical applications. Finally, we present several examples on the use of CE-MS to determine urinary biomarkers and implications for disease diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy evaluation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures / instrumentation*
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures / trends
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary*
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteome / analysis*


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteins
  • Proteome