Proteomic analysis of red blood cells and the potential for the clinic: what have we learned so far?

Expert Rev Proteomics. 2017 Mar;14(3):243-252. doi: 10.1080/14789450.2017.1291347. Epub 2017 Feb 15.


Red blood cells (RBC) are the most abundant host cells in the human body. Mature erythrocytes are devoid of nuclei and organelles and have always been regarded as circulating 'bags of hemoglobin'. The advent of proteomics has challenged this assumption, revealing unanticipated complexity and novel roles for RBCs not just in gas transport, but also in systemic metabolic homeostasis in health and disease. Areas covered: In this review we will summarize the main advancements in the field of discovery mode and redox/quantitative proteomics with respect to RBC biology. We thus focus on translational/clinical applications, such as transfusion medicine, hematology (e.g. hemoglobinopathies) and personalized medicine. Synergy of omics technologies - especially proteomics and metabolomics - are highlighted as a hallmark of clinical metabolomics applications for the foreseeable future. Expert commentary: The introduction of advanced proteomics technologies, especially quantitative and redox proteomics, and the integration of proteomics data with omics information gathered through orthogonal technologies (especially metabolomics) promise to revolutionize many biomedical areas, from hematology and transfusion medicine to personalized medicine and clinical biochemistry.

Keywords: Mass spectrometry; advanced omics; quantitative; switch-tag.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Blood Proteins / genetics*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics*
  • Precision Medicine
  • Proteomics*


  • Blood Proteins