What Can N-glycomics and N-glycoproteomics of Cerebrospinal Fluid Tell Us about Alzheimer Disease?

Biomolecules. 2021 Jun 9;11(6):858. doi: 10.3390/biom11060858.


Proteomics-large-scale studies of proteins-has over the last decade gained an enormous interest for studies aimed at revealing proteins and pathways involved in disease. To fully understand biological and pathological processes it is crucial to also include post-translational modifications in the "omics". To this end, glycomics (identification and quantification of glycans enzymatically or chemically released from proteins) and glycoproteomics (identification and quantification of peptides/proteins with the glycans still attached) is gaining interest. The study of protein glycosylation requires a workflow that involves an array of sample preparation and analysis steps that needs to be carefully considered. Herein, we briefly touch upon important steps such as sample preparation and preconcentration, glycan release, glycan derivatization and quantification and advances in mass spectrometry that today are the work-horse for glycomics and glycoproteomics studies. Several proteins related to Alzheimer disease pathogenesis have altered protein glycosylation, and recent glycomics studies have shown differences in cerebrospinal fluid as well as in brain tissue in Alzheimer disease as compared to controls. In this review, we discuss these techniques and how they have been used to shed light on Alzheimer disease and to find glycan biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; N-glycan; cerebrospinal fluid; glycomics; glycoproteomics; mass spectrometry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / chemistry
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Glycomics / methods
  • Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • Glycoproteins / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Polysaccharides / analysis*
  • Polysaccharides / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods


  • Biomarkers
  • Glycoproteins
  • Polysaccharides