Determination of S-nitrosoglutathione in human and rat plasma by high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence and ultraviolet absorbance detection after precolumn derivatization with o-phthalaldehyde

Anal Biochem. 1999 Aug 15;273(1):32-40. doi: 10.1006/abio.1999.4209.


An analytical method is described for the quantification of S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), a potent physiological vasodilator and inhibitor of platelet aggregation, in the presence of a high excess of reduced glutathione (GSH). The method is based on the quantitative elimination of GSH by N-ethylmaleimide, the conversion of GSNO by 2-mercaptoethanol to GSH, its reaction with o-phthalaldehyde (OPA) to form a highly fluorescent and UV-absorbing tricyclic isoindole derivative, and subsequent high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) separation with fluorescence and/or UV absorbance detection. The OPA derivatives of GSH and GSNO obtained by this method were found to be identical by mass spectrometry. GSH (up to 50 microM) did not interfere with the analysis of GSNO (up to 1000 nM). The limits of detection of the method for buffered aqueous solutions of GSNO were determined as 3 nM using fluorescence and 70 nM using UV absorbance detection. Isolation of GSNO by HPLC analysis (pH 7.0) of plasma ultrafiltrate samples (200 microl) prior to derivatization allows specific and artifact-free quantification of GSNO in human and rat plasma. Reduced and oxidized glutathione, nitrite, and cysteine did not interfere with the measurement of GSNO in human and rat plasma. The limit of quantitation (LOQ) of the combined method was determined as 100 nM of GSNO in human plasma ultrafiltrate using fluorescence detection. No endogenous GSNO could be detected in ultrafiltrate samples of plasma of 10 healthy humans at concentrations exceeding the LOQ of the method. After iv infusion of GSNO (125 micromol/kg body wt) in a rat for 20 min GSNO and GSH were detected in rat plasma at 60 and 130 microM, respectively. The method should be useful to investigate formation, metabolism, and reactions of GSNO in vitro and in vivo at physiologically relevant concentrations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Ethylmaleimide / metabolism
  • Glutathione / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glutathione / blood
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mercaptoethanol / metabolism
  • Models, Chemical
  • Nitroso Compounds / blood*
  • Rats
  • S-Nitrosoglutathione
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • o-Phthalaldehyde*


  • Nitroso Compounds
  • S-Nitrosoglutathione
  • Mercaptoethanol
  • o-Phthalaldehyde
  • Glutathione
  • Ethylmaleimide
  • Acetylcysteine