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Are hydroethidine-based probes reliable for ROS detection?

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Xiao,  Yi
Mass Spectrometry (Head: David Meierhofer), Scientific Service (Head: Christoph Krukenkamp), Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Max Planck Society;

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Meierhofer,  David
Mass Spectrometry (Head: David Meierhofer), Scientific Service (Head: Christoph Krukenkamp), Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Xiao, Y., & Meierhofer, D. (2019). Are hydroethidine-based probes reliable for ROS detection? ANTIOXIDANTS & REDOX SIGNALING, 31(4), 359-367. doi:10.1089/ars.2018.7535.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-5EB4-B
Abstract
Detection and quantification of the highly reactive and short lived superoxide (O·2-) can be challenging. Here, we present a new mass spectrometry (MS)-based method to detect and quantify O·2- using three fluorogenic hydroethidine probes: HE, mito-HE, and HPr+, which measure cytosolic, mitochondrial and extracellular O·2-, respectively. The probes and their oxidation products were simultaneously quantified by applying multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) with mass spectrometry that allowed the specific measurement of ROS distribution within the cell. The advantage of this LC-MS/MS method is that co-eluting compounds can be precisely distinguished using specific precursor and fragment masses. This method overcomes limitations from spectral overlap of O·2- specific and non-specific products in fluorescence spectra or the low specificity associated with chromatography-based approaches. However, our experiments showed that these hydroethidine probes can be prone to autoxidation during incubation at 37 °C in Hank's solution. Cell treatments with strong oxidants did not significantly increase levels of the O·2- radical. Thus, subtle changes in ROS levels in cell culture experiments might not be quantifiable. Our findings raise the question of whether hydroethidine-based probes can be used for the reliable detection of O·2- radicals in cell culture.