The use of stable isotopes as internal standards in mass spectrometry has opened a new era for quantitative proteomics. Depending on the point at which the label is introduced, most procedures can be classified as in vivo labeling, in vitro pre-digestion labeling or in vitro post-digestion labeling. In vivo labeling has been used for cells that can be grown in culture and has the advantage of being more accurate. The pre-digestion and post-digestion labeling procedures are suitable for all types of sample including human body fluids and biopsies. Several new mass spectrometric strategies mark significant achievements in determining relative protein concentrations and in quantifying post-translational modifications. However, further technology developments are needed for understanding the complexity of a dynamic system like the proteome.
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