Analytical methods for 3-nitrotyrosine as a marker of exposure to reactive nitrogen species: a review

Nitric Oxide. 1998;2(5):324-36. doi: 10.1006/niox.1998.0192.


Nitric oxide (NO*) is a diatomic free radical which has recently been found to have a key role in both normal physiological processes and disease states. The presence of NO in biological systems leads to the formation of reactive nitrogen species (RNS) such as peroxynitrite which reacts avidly with tyrosine residues in proteins to form nitrotyrosine (NTYR). Since peroxynitrite has a very short half-life at neutral pH, the presence of NTYR has been used as a marker of RNS production in various tissues. A number of methods for separation, detection, and quantitation of NTYR in biological samples have been developed. These methods include immunochemical techniques such as immunhistochemistry, ELISA, and Western blotting, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in combination with various detection systems including UV and electrochemical detection (ECD), gas chromatography (GC), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and electrospray mass spectrometry. In terms of sensitivity and specificity, it would appear that methods based on combinations of HPLC and various types of ECD are very versatile giving a limit of detection of 20 fmol per injection of protein hydrolysate. They are only limited by the sample quantity and the preparation that is required to achieve acceptable chromatograms. In addition to the detection of NTYR as a marker of RNS, its role in biological systems may be more subtle with nitration of key tyrosine residues likely to profoundly affect cellular function such as signaling cascades. Further advances are likely to be made in the localization of NTYR residues in peptide fragments using mass spectrometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / toxicity
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tyrosine / analysis
  • Tyrosine / chemistry


  • Biomarkers
  • Free Radicals
  • Nitric Oxide
  • 3-nitrotyrosine
  • Tyrosine