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Mass spectrometry of peptides and proteins from human blood



It is difficult to convey the accelerating rate and growing importance of mass spectrometry applications to human blood proteins and peptides. Mass spectrometry can rapidly detect and identify the ionizable peptides from the proteins in a simple mixture and reveal many of their post-translational modifications. However, blood is a complex mixture that may contain many proteins first expressed in cells and tissues. The complete analysis of blood proteins is a daunting task that will rely on a wide range of disciplines from physics, chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, electromagnetic instrumentation, mathematics and computation. Therefore the comprehensive discovery and analysis of blood proteins will rank among the great technical challenges and require the cumulative sum of many of mankind's scientific achievements together. A variety of methods have been used to fractionate, analyze and identify proteins from blood, each yielding a small piece of the whole and throwing the great size of the task into sharp relief. The approaches attempted to date clearly indicate that enumerating the proteins and peptides of blood can be accomplished. There is no doubt that the mass spectrometry of blood will be crucial to the discovery and analysis of proteins, enzyme activities, and post-translational processes that underlay the mechanisms of disease. At present both discovery and quantification of proteins from blood are commonly reaching sensitivities of ∼1 ng/mL. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., Mass Spec Rev 30:685–732, 2011