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Clin Chem. 1993 Feb;39(2):263-71.

Homocysteine and other thiols in plasma and urine: automated determination and sample stability.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Bergen, Norway.


We have developed a modified version of our fully automated column-switching HPLC method for determining total plasma homocysteine based on single-column (reversed-phase) separation. Homocysteine, cysteine, and cysteinylglycine in plasma (total concentrations), acid-precipitated plasma (non-protein-bound concentrations), and urine can be determined. The derivatization and chromatography were performed automatically by a sample processor. The successful separation of all thiol species (within 15 min) was accomplished by accurate adjustment of the pH of the mobile phase to 3.65 (plasma) or 3.50 (acid-precipitated plasma, urine). Maximal fluorescence yield of cysteine, cysteinylglycine, and, to a lesser degree, homocysteine was dependent on optimal concentrations of EDTA and dithioerythritol during reduction (with NaBH4) and derivatization (with monobromobimane). The method is sensitive (detection limit approximately 0.05 pmol) and has a high degree of precision (CV < 5%). The sample output is approximately 70 samples in 24 h. Serum and heparin plasma can also be analyzed. Hemolysis up to approximately 2.0 g/L of hemoglobin did not interfere with the analytical recovery of homocysteine or cysteine. Collection of blood, separation of plasma from whole blood, and acid precipitation must be standardized to obtain reproducible thiol results. Our modifications and the standardization of blood-sampling procedures have substantially improved the method and broadened its applications.

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