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Anal Biochem. 1987 Nov 1;166(2):424-30.

An internal standard method for the unattended high-performance liquid chromatographic analysis of ascorbic acid in blood components.

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Western Human Nutrition Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Presidio of San Francisco, California 94129.


A paired-ion, reversed-phase, high-performance liquid chromatography procedure using electrochemical detection and internal standard quantitation based on isoascorbic acid (IA) is described for the determination of ascorbic acid (AA) in blood cells and plasma. By correcting for vial-to-vial variations in the AA oxidation rate, use of IA as an internal standard overcomes a major problem associated with AA instability and eliminates the necessity of assaying samples immediately after they are prepared for analysis. The ion-pairing agent, dodecyltriethylammonium phosphate, gives improved AA-IA resolution over agents with shorter carbon chains and also eliminates the interference of an unidentified substance extracted with platelet AA. Five percent metaphosphoric acid extracts of mononuclear leukocytes (MN), polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN), platelets, or plasma were mixed with the IA internal standard and diluted with an EDTA-cysteine solution. The samples were placed in a refrigerated autosampler at 4 degrees C prior to chromatography on a 5-microns octadecylsilyl column. AA concentrations (mean +/- SD) in platelets, MN, and PMN from six healthy volunteers were 0.25 +/- 0.05, 15.2 +/- 6.28, and 2.43 +/- 1.63 micrograms/10(8) cells, respectively; the mean plasma AA concentration was 0.97 +/- 0.34 mg/dl. All are in good agreement with published values. Refrigerated sample extracts containing the internal standard can be reassayed up to 3 weeks later with negligible change in calculated AA concentration. Up to 70 samples can be assayed per day with a detection limit (3 X SD) and minimum quantifiable level (less than 5% coefficient of variation) of 0.02 and 0.2 ng/injection, respectively.

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