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Free Radic Biol Med. 2013 Mar;56:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.12.002. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

An improved mass spectrometry-based measurement of NO metabolites in biological fluids.

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College of Food Engineering and Nutritional Science, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China.


Assessment of NO metabolism in vivo relies on the accurate measurement of its metabolites nitrite (NO(2)(-)), nitrate (NO(3)(-)), and nitrosothiols (RSNOs) in biological fluids. We report a sensitive method to simultaneously determine NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) in biological matrixes. Tetraoctylammonium was used to catalyze the complete conversion of NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) to stable pentafluorobenzyl (PFB) derivatives directly from aqueous acetone medium before gas chromatography and negative-ion chemical ionization mass spectrometry (GC/NICI/MS). This catalyst dramatically improved the yield of PFB derivatives for NO(2)(-) (4.5 times) and NO(3)(-) (55 times) compared to noncatalyzed derivatization methods. Analysis was performed using (15)N-labeled internal standards by selected-ion monitoring at m/z 46 for fragment NO(2)(-) and m/z 47 for its isotope analogue, (15)NO(2)(-), and m/z 62 for NO(3)(-) and m/z 63 for (15)NO(3)(-). This method allowed specific detection of both PFB derivatives over a wide dynamic range with a limit of detection below 4.5 pg for NO(2)(-) and 2.5 pg for NO(3)(-). After the specific conversion of RSNOs by HgCl(2) to NO(2)(-), this GC/NICI/MS analysis was used to measure RSNOs in plasma. A further comparison with the widely used tri-iodide chemiluminescence (I(3)(-)-CL) assay indicated that the GC/MS assay validated the lower physiological RSNO and nitrite levels reported using I(3)(-)-CL detection compared with values obtained using UV-photolysis methods. Plasma levels of RSNOs determined by GC/MS and I(3)(-)-CL were well correlated (r = 0.8). The improved GC/MS method was successfully used to determine the changes in plasma, urinary, and salivary NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) as well as plasma RSNOs in humans after either a low-NO(3)(-) or a high-NO(3)(-) meal.

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