Measurement of plasma norepinephrine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycol: Method development for a translational research study

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Objective: Norepinephrine (NE), a sympathetic neurotransmitter, is often measured in plasma as an index of sympathetic activity. To better understand NE dynamics, it is important to measure its principal metabolite, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG), concurrently. Our aim was to present a method, developed in the course of a translational research study, to measure NE and DHPG in human plasma using high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection (HPLC-ED). Results: After pre-purifying plasma samples by alumina extraction, we used HPLC-ED to separate and quantify NE and DHPG. In order to remove uric acid, which co-eluted with DHPG, a sodium bicarbonate wash was added to the alumina extraction procedure, and we oxidized the column eluates followed by reduction because catechols are reversibly oxidized whereas uric acid is irreversibly oxidized. Average recoveries of plasma NE and DHPG were 35.3 ± 1.0% and 16.3 ± 1.1%, respectively, and there was no detectable uric acid. Our estimated detection limits for NE and DHPG were approximately 85 pg/mL (0.5 pmol/mL) and 165 pg/mL (0.9 pmol/mL), respectively. The measurement of NE and DHPG in human plasma has wide applicability; thus, we describe a method to quantify plasma NE and DHPG in a laboratory setting as a useful tool for translational and clinical research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number248
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 19 2018



  • 3 4-dihydroxyphenylglycol
  • Electrochemical detection
  • High performance liquid chromatography
  • Human plasma
  • Norepinephrine
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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