Background: Mass spectrometry (MS) methods are being widely used these days in medical laboratories for quantifying many small molecular analytes as well as for microbiological purposes.
Methods: Little use has been made so far, however, of MS for analyzing peptides and proteins in clinical laboratory (an approach known as clinical MS proteomics (cMSP)). The explanation for this situation may be that cMSP assays are more complex to implement than conventional assays, require large investments in terms of equipment and training, and have not yet been sufficiently validated for clinical applications. In addition, the protein analysis assays currently used in medical laboratories mostly meet both laboratory and clinical requirements in terms of analytical performances, ease of use, and turn-around-time.
Results: With the spread of MS methods in laboratories, increasing interest seems to be focusing on the development of MS for quantifying new analytes. MALDI-TOF MS methods have already been replacing classical methods of bacterial classification in clinical laboratories, for example, and this can be said to be an important step in this direction.
Conclusions: In this paper, the literature available on the topic of clinical MS proteomics is reviewed and the pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical challenges which will have to be met in connection with this approach are discussed.
Keywords: Clinical chemistry; Laboratory medicine; Mass spectrometry; Proteomics.
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