Comprehensive Plasma Thiol Redox Status Determination for Metabolomics
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Thiol homeostasis plays an important role in human health and aging by regulation of cellular responses to oxidative stress. Due to major constraints that hamper reliable plasma thiol/disulfide redox status assessment in clinical research, we introduce an improved strategy for comprehensive thiol speciation using capillary electrophoresis-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (CE-ESI-MS) that overcomes sensitivity, selectivity and dynamic range constraints of conventional techniques. This method integrates both specific and nonspecific approaches toward sensitivity enhancement for artifact-free quantification of labile plasma thiols without complicated sample handling. A multivariate model was developed to predict increases in ionization efficiency for reduced thiols when conjugated to various maleimide analogs based on their intrinsic physicochemical properties. Optimization of maleimide labeling in conjunction with online sample preconcentration allowed for simultaneous analysis of nanomolar levels of reduced thiols and free oxidized thiols as their intact symmetric or mixed disulfides. Identification of low-abundance thiols and various other polar metabolites detected in plasma was supported by prediction of their relative migration times using CE as a qualitative tool complementary to ESI-MS. Plasma thiol redox status determination together with untargeted metabolite profiling offers a systemic approach for elucidation of the causal role of dysregulated thiol metabolism in the etiology of human diseases.
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