A quantitative assay for the juvenile hormones and their precursors using fluorescent tags

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43784. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043784. Epub 2012 Aug 22.


Background: The juvenile hormones (JHs) are sesquiterpenoid compounds that play a central role in insect reproduction, development and behavior. The lipophilic nature of JHs and their precursors, in conjunction with their low concentration in tissues and susceptibility to degradation had made their quantification difficult. A variety of methods exist for JH quantification but few can quantify on the femtomole range. Currently applied methods are expensive and time consuming. In the present study we sought to develop a novel method for accurate detection and quantification of JHs and their precursors.

Methods: A sensitive and robust method was developed to quantify the precursor, farnesoic acid (FA) and juvenile hormone III (JH III) in biological samples. The assay is based on the derivatization of analytes with fluorescent tags, with subsequent analysis by reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography coupled to a fluorescent detector (HPLC-FD). The carboxyl group of FA was derivatized with 4-Acetamido-7-mercapto-2,1,3-benzoxadiazole (AABD-SH). Tagging the epoxide group of JH III required a two-step reaction: the opening of the epoxide ring with sodium sulfide and derivatization with the fluorescent tag 4-(N,N-Dimethylaminosulfonyl)-7-(N-chloroformylmethyl-N-methylamino)-2,1,3-benzoxadiazole (DBD-COCl).

Conclusions: The method developed in the present study showed high sensitivity, accuracy and reproducibility. Linear responses were obtained over the range of 10-20 to 1000 fmols. Recovery efficiencies were over 90% for JH III and 98% for FA with excellent reproducibility.

Significance: The proposed method is applicable when sensitive detection and accurate quantification of limited amount of sample is needed. Examples include corpora allata, hemolymph and whole body of female adult Aedes aegypti and whole body Drosophila melanogaster. A variety of additional functional groups can be targeted to add fluorescent tags to the remaining JH III precursors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Chromatography, Reverse-Phase
  • Clinical Chemistry Tests / methods*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Limit of Detection
  • Oxadiazoles / chemistry
  • Sesquiterpenes / analysis*
  • Sesquiterpenes / chemistry*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence


  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Oxadiazoles
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • methyl 6,7-10,11-bis(epoxy)-3,7,11-trimethyl-2-dodecenoate
  • farnesoic acid
  • juvenile hormone III