Bioanalysis Zone

Relative quantification of biomarkers using mixed-isotope labeling coupled with MS

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The identification and quantification of important biomarkers is a critical first step in the elucidation of biological systems. Biomarkers take many forms as cellular responses to stimuli and can be manifested during transcription, translation, and/or metabolic processing. Increasingly, researchers have relied upon mixed-isotope labeling (MIL) coupled with MS to perform relative quantification of biomarkers between two or more biological samples. MIL effectively tags biomarkers of interest for ease of identification and quantification within the mass spectrometer by using isotopic labels that introduce a heavy and light form of the tag. In addition to MIL coupled with MS, a number of other approaches have been used to quantify biomarkers including protein gel staining, enzymatic labeling, metabolic labeling, and several label-free approaches that generate quantitative data from the MS signal response. This review focuses on MIL techniques coupled with MS for the quantification of protein and small-molecule biomarkers.

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