Human serum processing and analysis methods for rapid and reproducible N-glycan mass profiling

J Proteome Res. 2010 Oct 1;9(10):4952-9. doi: 10.1021/pr100202a.


Glycans constitute a new class of compounds for biomarker discovery. Glycosylation is a common post-translational modification and is often associated with transformation to malignancy. To analyze glycans, they are released from proteins, enriched, and measured with mass spectrometry. For biomarker discovery, repeatability at every step of the process is important. Locating and minimizing the process variability is key to establishing a robust platform stable enough for biomarker discovery. Understanding the variability of the measurement devices helps understand the variability associated with the chemical processing. This report explores the potential use of methods expediting the enzymatic release of glycans such as a microwave reactor and automation of the solid-phase extraction with a robotic liquid handler. The study employs matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry but would be suitable with any mass spectrometry method. Methods for system-wide data analysis are examined because proper metrics for evaluating the performance of glycan sample preparation procedures are not well established.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism*
  • Glycomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / instrumentation
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Polysaccharides / analysis*
  • Polysaccharides / blood
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Proteins
  • Polysaccharides