Critical dependence of blood-borne biomarker concentrations on the half-lives of their carrier proteins

R. P. Araujo*, E. F. Petricoin, L. A. Liotta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Until recently, the low-abundance (LA) range of the serum proteome was an unexplored reservoir of diagnostic information. Today it is increasingly appreciated that a diagnostic goldmine of LA biomarkers resides in the blood stream in complexed association with more abundant higher molecular weight carrier proteins such as albumin and immunoglobulins. As we now look to the possibility of harvesting these LA biomarkers more efficiently through engineered nano-scale particles, mathematical approaches are needed in order to reveal the mechanisms by which blood carrier proteins act as molecular 'mops' for LA diagnostic cargo, and the functional relationships between bound LA biomarker concentrations and other variables of interest such as biomarker intravasation and clearance rates and protein half-lives in the bloodstream. Here we show, by simple mathematical modeling, how the relative abundance of large carrier proteins and their longer half-lives in the bloodstream work together to amplify the total blood concentration of these tiny biomarkers. The analysis further suggests that alterations in the production of biomarkers lead to gradual rather than immediate changes in biomarker levels in the blood circulation. The model analysis also points to the characteristics of artificial nano-particles that would render them more efficient harvesters of tumor biomarkers in the circulation, opening up possibilities for the early detection of curable disease, rather than simply better detection of advanced disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-622
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 7 Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagnostic biomarkers
  • Mass-action kinetics
  • Proteomics
  • Serum


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