Glycoscience aids in biomarker discovery

BMB Rep. 2012 Jun;45(6):323-30. doi: 10.5483/bmbrep.2012.45.6.132.


The glycome consists of all glycans (or carbohydrates) within a biological system, and modulates a wide range of important biological activities, from protein folding to cellular communications. The mining of the glycome for disease markers represents a new paradigm for biomarker discovery; however, this effort is severely complicated by the vast complexity and structural diversity of glycans. This review summarizes recent developments in analytical technology and methodology as applied to the fields of glycomics and glycoproteomics. Mass spectrometric strategies for glycan compositional profiling are described, as are potential refinements which allow structure-specific profiling. Analytical methods that can discern protein glycosylation at a specific site of modification are also discussed in detail. Biomarker discovery applications are shown at each level of analysis, highlighting the key role that glycoscience can play in helping scientists understand disease biology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Glycomics*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Polysaccharides / analysis
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Polysaccharides
  • Proteins