Kinetic analysis of DAF-FM activation by NO: toward calibration of a NO-sensitive fluorescent dye

Nitric Oxide. 2013 Jan 15;28:39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2012.10.001. Epub 2012 Oct 11.


Nitric oxide (NO) research in biomedicine has been hampered by the absence of a method that will allow quantitative measurement of NO in biological tissues with high sensitivity and selectivity, and with adequate spatial and temporal resolution. 4-amino-5-methylamino-2',7'-difluorofluorescein (DAF-FM) is a NO sensitive fluorescence probe that has been used widely for qualitative assessment of cellular NO production. However, calibration of the fluorescent signal and quantification of NO concentration in cells and tissues using fluorescent probes, have provided significant challenge. In this study we utilize a combination of mathematical modeling and experimentation to elucidate the kinetics of NO/DAF-FM reaction in solution. Modeling and experiments suggest that the slope of fluorescent intensity (FI) can be related to NO concentration according to the equation: ddtFI=2αk(1)NO(2)O(2)DAF-FMkNO+DAF-FM where α is a proportionality coefficient that relates FI to unit concentration of activated DAF-FM, k(1) is the NO oxidation rate constant, and k was estimated to be 4.3±0.6. The FI slope exhibits saturation kinetics with DAF-FM concentration. Interestingly, the effective half-maximum constant (EC(50)) increases proportionally to NO concentration. This result is not in agreement with the proposition that N(2)O(3) is the NO oxidation byproduct that activates DAF-FM. Kinetic analysis suggests that the reactive intermediate should exhibit NO-dependent consumption and thus NO(2)() is a more likely candidate. The derived rate law can be used for the calibration of DAF-FM fluorescence and the quantification of NO concentration in biological tissues.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Fluoresceins / analysis
  • Fluoresceins / chemistry*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / analysis
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry*
  • Kinetics
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis*
  • Nitric Oxide / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Time Factors


  • 4-amino-5-methylamino-2',7'-difluorofluorescein diacetate
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Nitric Oxide