Measurement of uronic acids without interference from neutral sugars

Anal Biochem. 1991 Aug 15;197(1):157-62. doi: 10.1016/0003-2697(91)90372-z.


Replacement of carbazole with meta-hydroxydiphenyl greatly improves the determination of uronic acids in the presence of neutral sugars by preventing substantially, but not completely, the browning that occurs during the heating of sugars in concentrated sulfuric acid and avoiding the formation of additional interference by the carbazole reagent (Blumenkrantz, N., and Asboe-Hansen, G. (1973) Anal. Biochem. 54, 484-489). However, interference is still substantial when uronic acids are determined in the presence of excess neutral sugar, particularly because of the browning that occurs during the first heating before addition of the diphenyl reagent. The browning can be essentially eliminated by addition of sulfamate to the reaction mixture (Galambos, J. T. (1967) Anal. Biochem. 19, 119-132). Although others have reported that sulfamate and the diphenyl reagent were incompatible, we find that a small amount of sulfamate suppresses color production by a 20-fold excess of some neutral sugars without substantial sacrifice of the sensitive detection of uronic acids by the diphenyl reagent. Sodium tetraborate is required for the detection of D-mannuronic acid and enhances color production by D-glucuronic acid. We propose this modified sulfamate/m-hydroxydiphenyl assay as a rapid and reliable means for the assay of uronic acids, particularly when present in much smaller amounts than neutral sugars.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods*
  • Color
  • Hot Temperature
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • Uronic Acids / analysis*


  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Carbohydrates
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • Uronic Acids
  • sulfamic acid
  • 3-hydroxybiphenyl