Advances and Utility of the Human Plasma Proteome

J Proteome Res. 2021 Dec 3;20(12):5241-5263. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.1c00657. Epub 2021 Oct 21.


The study of proteins circulating in blood offers tremendous opportunities to diagnose, stratify, or possibly prevent diseases. With recent technological advances and the urgent need to understand the effects of COVID-19, the proteomic analysis of blood-derived serum and plasma has become even more important for studying human biology and pathophysiology. Here we provide views and perspectives about technological developments and possible clinical applications that use mass-spectrometry(MS)- or affinity-based methods. We discuss examples where plasma proteomics contributed valuable insights into SARS-CoV-2 infections, aging, and hemostasis and the opportunities offered by combining proteomics with genetic data. As a contribution to the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) Human Plasma Proteome Project (HPPP), we present the Human Plasma PeptideAtlas build 2021-07 that comprises 4395 canonical and 1482 additional nonredundant human proteins detected in 240 MS-based experiments. In addition, we report the new Human Extracellular Vesicle PeptideAtlas 2021-06, which comprises five studies and 2757 canonical proteins detected in extracellular vesicles circulating in blood, of which 74% (2047) are in common with the plasma PeptideAtlas. Our overview summarizes the recent advances, impactful applications, and ongoing challenges for translating plasma proteomics into utility for precision medicine.

Keywords: DNA aptamers (Somascan); Human Plasma Proteome Project; Human Proteome Project; PeptideAtlas; blood; mass spectrometry; plasma; proteomics; proximity extension assays (PEA by Olink).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • COVID-19 / genetics
  • Databases, Protein
  • Hemostasis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Proteome* / genetics
  • Proteomics / trends*


  • Proteome