How many proteins make up the human body?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably wondered how many proteins are coursing through your veins at any given moment. As it turns out, the answer is not as simple as we might hope. The human body contains a dizzying array of different proteins that perform countless functions, from catalyzing metabolic reactions to forming structural elements of our cells and tissues.

A Bird’s Eye View

To get a sense of just how many proteins make up the human body, let’s first take a look at some big-picture numbers:

  • There are approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in the human genome
  • Each gene can potentially produce multiple alternative forms of mRNA transcripts
  • These transcripts can then be spliced together in various ways before being translated into proteins

So with all these variables at play, how many distinct types of proteins actually exist? The ProteomicsDB database currently lists over 19 million unique protein sequences! That sounds like an impressive number until you realize that most of these individual sequences correspond to slightly different versions (i.e., isoforms) of the same core protein.

Categorizing Protein Types

Given this complexity and diversity across millions upon millions (or trillions)of potential combinations in terms o protein type,it would be reasonable to ask whether there is any way to categorize or organize them into more manageable groups. Indeed there is! For example:

Structural Proteins

One major category consists of structural proteins that provide form and stability for cells and tissues. Examples include:

  • Collagen – found abundantly throughout your skin,skeletons etc.
  • Keratin – Maintains structure hair,nails,tongue etc.,
  • Elastin – Provides elasticity in skin,great vessels et al.


Enzyme catalysis mediated by Globular enzymes governs majority of chemical reactions in biological systems. They contribute to everything from digestive processes to DNA replication.

  • Lipase- Enzyme that cleave triglycerides into fatty acids and glycerol
  • Protease- Breaks down protein macromolecules into smaller units(amino-acids)
  • Amylase – Catalyzes degradation of long chain glucose polymers called starch

Transport Proteins

Transport proteins bind small molecules such as ions, hormones or oxygenous compounds , allowing them to be transported through the bloodstreams.


1.Hemoglobin: A globular hemeprotein composed of four subunits binds with molecular oxygen (This is why your blood turns red when exposed to air)
2.Serum Albumin: Is also classified as a carrier protein-help transport various biomolecules in our bloodstream
3.Transferrine : Acts a transporter for transferrinand iron molecules across cells


Antibodies are complex protein iantibodymolecules used by the immune system for specific recognition targets the signature antigen surface recognition target after first joining(for this reason it us also called an immunoglobulin).Humans have multiple classes (IgG IgM,IgD,IgE & IgA) which recognize distinct epitopes on antigens.

Estimating Protein Counts

Although we can’t give a precise number of how many total proteins make up the human body, researchers have made some informed estimates using techniques such as mass spectrometry. One recent study published in Nature Communications estimated that there are at least 330 million non-redundant peptides present in human tissue samples; extrapolating from this number suggests that there could be anywhere from 200-225,000 unique protein products.(According to American Association For Clinical Chemistry).

It’s important to note though that these numbers may vary based upon age,sex,body weight and physical activity levels of the individual. For example when an athlete’s skeletal muscles are measured over time with intensive training it yielded different protein counts than controls who didn’t partake in intense athletic activity.

Protein Turnover

As if this weren’t complex enough already, we also need to consider the issue of protein turnover:how long each kind of protein actually remains active within the human body before being degraded.The half-life for a typical globular protein usually falls between 1 day to few weeks.Some such as collagen,&keratin may survive multiple years.With so many different factors on play,it seems that pinning down precise number would be almost impossible without first developing better clarifying techniques.


So how many proteins make up the human body? We still don’t know exactly – but what is undeniable is that these complicated molecular cascades are both fascinating and incredibly important. Whether you’re interested in health,your diet or just have an insatiable curiosity about biology,there’s no shortage of things left to discover here! Who knows- You might even change science by cracking some secrets from this abyss!!!

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