The analytical determination of isoprenoid intermediates from the mevalonate pathway

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012 Jan;402(2):671-85. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-5262-2. Epub 2011 Jul 26.


In this article, assays on the analytical determination of farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), two important isoprenoid intermediates at biochemically relevant branching points in the mevalonate pathway, are summarized and reviewed. There is considerable recent interest in the measurement of these two isoprenoids because of their direct involvement in several diseases, for example, statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase but equally affect other metabolite biosyntheses. The isoprenoids FPP and GGPP are key intermediates due to their role as CaaX-specific substrates for posttranslational modification of proteins (protein prenylation). Disease pathologies and therapeutic efficacy of different treatments (e.g., cholesterol-lowering drugs) may lead to a reduction in isoprenoid levels and an accompanying reduction in prenylation of specific proteins. To understand the exact biochemical role of the isoprenoids FPP and GGPP, we need to know their levels. Several recent studies have shown exact levels of FPP and GGP in plasma and relevant tissues and their modulation following treatment. Furthermore, by directly measuring the extent of protein prenylation and identifying target proteins, further insight into the exact biochemical nature of the pathology and regulatory mechanisms will be possible. This short review aims to highlight the relevant literature on the analytical determination of the free isoprenoids FPP and GGPP in biological tissue as well as techniques for directly measuring prenylated proteins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Ion Exchange
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mevalonic Acid / metabolism*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Terpenes / analysis*
  • Terpenes / metabolism*


  • Terpenes
  • Mevalonic Acid