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R Soc Open Sci. 2017 Jun 7;4(6):161004. doi: 10.1098/rsos.161004. eCollection 2017 Jun.

Proteomic profiling of archaeological human bone.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.
Department of Human Biology and Anatomy, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, 207 Uehara, Nishihara, Nakagami, Okinawa 903-0215, Japan.
Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, ster Voldgade 5-7, 1350 Copenhagen, Denmark.
Department of Anatomy, St. Marianna University School of Medicine, 2-16-1 Sugao, Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 216-8511, Japan.
Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3b, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.
School of Medicine, Hangzhou Normal University, No.58, Haishu Road, Cangqian, Yuhang District, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 311121, People's Republic of China.


Ancient protein analysis provides clues to human life and diseases from ancient times. Here, we performed shotgun proteomics of human archeological bones for the first time, using rib bones from the Hitotsubashi site (AD 1657-1683) in Tokyo, called Edo in ancient times. The output data obtained were analysed using Gene Ontology and label-free quantification. We detected leucocyte-derived proteins, possibly originating from the bone marrow of the rib. Particularly prevalent and relatively high expression of eosinophil peroxidase suggests the influence of infectious diseases. This scenario is plausible, considering the overcrowding and unhygienic living conditions of the Edo city described in the historical literature. We also observed age-dependent differences in proteome profiles, particularly for proteins involved in developmental processes. Among them, alpha-2-HS-glycoprotein demonstrated a strong negative correlation with age. These results suggest that analysis of ancient proteins could provide a useful indicator of stress, disease, starvation, obesity and other kinds of physiological and pathological information.


age-related changes; archaeological bone; immune system; mass spectrometry; proteomics

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