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Home/biomarkers, human/recombinant human GDF-15 protein (Qk017)


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recombinant human GDF-15 protein (Qk017)

Human GDF15 (growth differentiation factor 15) protein is a member of the TGFβ family and subject of intense interest as a marker of cellular stress and for its role in metabolism, cancer and pregnancy.  Human GDF15 also is functional in mouse studies.

This 25 kDa disulfide-linked dimer is composed of the mature domain of human growth differentiation factor 15 protein. Our recombinant GDF15 protein is expressed in E. coli and exceptionally high purity extensively validated to ensure no trace contamination of related TGFβ family proteins from the mammalian culture systems, which historically led to controversy in the literature.


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1mg may be despatched as 2 x 500µg


  • high purity human GDF15 protein (Uniprot: Q99988)

  • 25 kDa (dimer). Mature active protein is a disulfide-linked dimer.

  • expressed in E. coli

  • carrier protein-free

  • manufactured in our Cambridge, UK laboratories

  • lyophilized from acetonitrile, TFA

  • resuspend in 10mM HCl at >100 µg/ml, prepare single use aliquots, add carrier protein if desired and store frozen at -20 oC or -80 oC

handling and storage FAQ

featured applications

  • biomarker for cellular stress

  • In vivo metabolic studies in mice (using human GDF15)


Human GDF-15 Qk017 protein no SMAD bioactivity lot #011
Human GDF-15 Qk017 protein positive control Activin A SMAD bioactivity

GDF15 signals through GRAL and co-receptor RET leading to RET phosphorylation and signalling through the ERK and AKT pathway (reviewed in Emmerson et al., 2018). Commercial sources of GDF15, in particular those purified from mammalian expression systems, have been shown previously to be contaminated with trace amounts of TGFβ. These trace contaminants cause misleading experimental results due to the picomolar or even femtomolar EC50s (Olsen et al., 2017). Here we use a well-characterized SMAD2/3 activation assay to show that there is no contamination from other TGFβ family proteins.

Bioactivity is determined using a luciferase reporter assay in HEK293T cells.  Cells are treated (in triplicate) with a serial dilution of GDF15 or Qk001 ActA for 6 hours. Firefly luciferase activity is measured and normalized to the control Renilla luciferase activity. EC50 = 0 pM (no contamination with TGFβ or related growth factors). Data from Qk017 lot #011


Human GDF15 Qk017 protein purity SDS-PAGE lot #011

GDF15 migrates as a single band at 24 kDa in non-reducing (NR) and 13 kDa as a single monomeric species upon reduction (R).  No contaminating protein bands are visible.

Purified recombinant protein (7 µg) was resolved using 15% w/v SDS-PAGE in reduced (+β-mercaptothanol, R) and non-reduced conditions (NR) and stained with Coomassie Brilliant Blue R250.  Data from Qk017 lot #010

further quality assays

  • mass spectrometry: single species with expected mass

  • analytical reversed-phase: single sharp peak

  • endotoxin: <0.005 EU/μg protein (below level of detection)

  • recovery from stock vial:  >95%

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download MSDS

We are a company founded and run by scientists to provide a service and support innovation in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.  All our products are exceptionally high purity, with complete characterisation and bioactivity analysis on every lot.

protein background

Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) is a distant member of the TGFβ superfamily. Its expression is tightly regulated and circulating GDF15 protein in serum is associated with diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and metabolic disease. GDF15 protein is being recognized as an important biomarker for cellular stress.

Unlike other members of the TGFβ superfamily that cause activation of the SMAD pathway, GDF15 protein signals through GRAL and co-receptor RET leading to RET phosphorylation and signalling through the ERK and AKT pathway (reviewed in Emmerson et al., 20181). Commercial sources of recombinant human GDF15 protein, in particular those purified from mammalian expression, are frequently contaminated with trace amounts of TGFβ and related proteins. These trace contaminants cause misleading experimental results due to the picomolar or even femtomolar EC50s of this family of cytokines2.  Please be cautious with your source of recombinant GDF15 protein, our scientists are happy to provide further information, please email

We produce our proteins in E. coli with no animal products in our culture or purification processes to ensure there is no contamination from related proteins. In addition, we use a well-characterized SMAD2/3 activation assay to confirm there is no SMAD signalling.

We welcome all feedback and specialist collaborator data on all our products. If you would like to provide application-specific feedback for human GDF-15, please contact us

Our products are for research use only and not for diagnostic or therapeutic use.  Products are not for resale.

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