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Bioanalysis. 2013 Mar;5(5):545-59. doi: 10.4155/bio.12.327.

Analytical platform for glycomic characterization of recombinant erythropoietin biotherapeutics and biosimilars by MS.

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  • 1Graduate School of Analytical Science & Technology, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Korea.



Erythropoietin is a therapeutic glycoprotein that stimulates red blood cell production. The quality, safety and potency of recombinant erythropoietins are determined largely by their glycosylation. Small variations in cell culture conditions can significantly affect the glycosylation, and therefore the efficacy, of recombinant erythropoietins. Thus, detailed glycomic analyses are necessary to assess biotherapeutic quality. We have developed a platform for qualitative and quantitative glycomic analysis of recombinant erythropoietins.


The platform was used to profile native N-glycans from three production batches of darbepoetin alfa (also known as NESP), a common form of recombinant erythropoietin. Darbepoetin alfa was found to contain an abundance of large, multi-antennary N-glycans with high levels of sialylation, O-acetylation and dehydration. Results were verified by independent orthogonal analysis with both MALDI-TOF and nano-LC/Q-TOF MS.


This platform may be applied to QC and batch analysis of not only recombinant erythropoietin, but also other complex, glycosylated biotherapeutics and biosimilars.

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