Determining glutathione and glutathione disulfide using the fluorescence probe o-phthalaldehyde

Anal Biochem. 2000 Apr 10;280(1):80-6. doi: 10.1006/abio.2000.4498.


Because of the importance of glutathione (GSH) and glutathione disulfide (GSSG) in cellular signal transduction, gene regulation, redox regulation, and biochemical homeostasis, accurate determination of cellular glutathione levels is critical. Several procedures have been developed, but many suffer from overestimating GSSG or from cellular substances interfering or competing with GSH determination. Assays based on HPLC, with enzymatic reduction of GSSG by glutathione reductase and NADPH, appear to be valid but are limited in sample throughput and availability of equipment. The fluorescence probe o-phthalaldehyde (OPA, phthalic dicarboxaldehyde) reacts with GSH and has a high quantum yield, yet its use has been limited due to unidentified interfering and fluorescence-quenching substances in liver. This paper describes assay conditions under which these limitations are avoided. By using a phosphate-buffered assay at lower pH, interference with nonspecific reactants is minimal. Since enzymatic reduction is not possible due to the reaction of OPA with NAD(P)H and other stronger reducing agents, leading to an overestimation of GSSG levels, dithionite was used to reduce GSSG. High sample throughput combined with sensitive (20-pmol limit of detection) and accurate determination of GSH and GSSG using OPA is achievable with any monochromatographic spectrofluorometer. Sample preparation and storage conditions are described that return the same levels of GSH and GSSG for at least 4 weeks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Glutathione / analysis*
  • Glutathione Disulfide / analysis*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • o-Phthalaldehyde / chemistry*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • o-Phthalaldehyde
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide