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J Chromatogr B Biomed Appl. 1994 Mar 4;653(2):131-8.

Improved assay for plasma dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and other catechols using high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection.

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Clinical Neuroscience Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Several modifications of an HPLC-electrochemical assay method for plasma levels of norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (EPI), dopamine (DA), dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG), dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) that improve the accuracy and reliability of DHPG, DOPA, and DOPAC measurements are described. In batch alumina extractions, increasing the amount of alumina decreased analytical recoveries of DHPG, DOPA, and especially DOPAC, and increasing the strength of the eluting acid increased recoveries of these catechols, without affecting recoveries of the amines NE, EPI and DA. Refrigeration (4 degrees C) until injection stabilized DOPAC in aqueous solution and therefore improved the reproducibility of plasma DOPAC measurements. Circulation of chilled water (15 degrees C) around the column using a water jacket decreased variability in retention times of the catechols and thereby facilitated identification of peaks, while enhancing separation of DHPG from the solvent front. Use of 6-fluoro-DOPA and 6-fluoro-DOPAC as internal standards did not improve inter-assay reliability. We recommend that in assays of plasma catechols including DOPAC, small (5 mg), precisely measured amounts of alumina be used, with a relatively strong eluting solution (e.g. 0.04 M phosphoric acid-0.2 M acetic acid, 20:80, v/v), and that the samples be refrigerated until injection, with column temperature held constant at less than 20 degrees C.

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