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Serum Proteins

Clinical Chemistry

  1. Robert F. Ritchie1,
  2. John T. Whicher2

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0542

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Ritchie, R. F. and Whicher, J. T. 2006. Serum Proteins. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Foundation for Blood Research, Scarborough, USA

  2. 2

    University of Leeds School of Medicine, Leeds, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Plasma contains a large number of different proteins with varying structural characteristics. The “plasma proteins” have been defined on the basis of plasma concentration and amenability to measurement in certain types of measurement systems. In the past, they were proteins present with concentrations above 0.05 g L−1, but more recently detection limits have been decreased to about 0.001 g L−1. However, the group of proteins is not defined on a pathophysiological basis and the definition remains idiosyncratic and incomprehensible to the noncognoscenti. The function of an increasing proportion of them is known and the evidence suggests that they are present either with a specific role in the plasma or that they represent cellular proteins shed into the circulation as a result of degradative processes. Many plasma proteins show characteristic changes in concentration or structure either resulting from genetic dictates that may give rise to disease directly or as a result of changes reflecting pathological or physiological processes. All the transcellular fluids, such as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), urine, synovial fluid and saliva, contain most or all of the plasma proteins, but there are some additional proteins secreted specifically into these fluids.

This chapter reviews the many methods applied to proteins for clinical and research purposes. Also addressed are the pitfalls not often appreciated by the worker presented with a sample to be analyzed in an increasingly impenetrable “machine”.