Peptides as "better biomarkers"? Value, challenges, and potential solutions to facilitate implementation

Mass Spectrom Rev. 2023 Jun 26. doi: 10.1002/mas.21854. Online ahead of print.


Peptides carry important functions in normal physiological and pathophysiological processes and can serve as clinically useful biomarkers. Given the ability to diffuse passively across endothelial barriers, endogenous peptides can be examined in several body fluids, including among others urine, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid. This review article provides an update on the recently published literature that reports on investigating native peptides in body fluids using mass spectrometry-based platforms, specifically those studies that focus on the application of peptides as biomarkers to improve clinical management. We emphasize on the critical evaluation of their clinical value, how close they are to implementation, and the associated challenges and potential solutions to facilitate clinical implementation. During the last 5 years, numerous studies have been published, demonstrating the increased interest in mass spectrometry for the assessment of endogenous peptides as potential biomarkers. Importantly, the presence of few successful examples of implementation in patients' management and/or in the context of clinical trials indicates that the peptide biomarker field is evolving. Nevertheless, most studies still report evidence based on small sample size, while validation phases are frequently missing. Therefore, a gap between discovery and implementation still exists.

Keywords: biomarkers; body fluids; implementation; peptides; peptidomics.

Publication types

  • Review