Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 378, Issue 7, pp 1783–1792 | Cite as

Determination of the thiol redox state of organisms: new oxidative stress indicators

  • Nikolaos Patsoukis
  • Christos D. Georgiou
Original Paper


This study describes a new methodology by which the concentrations of non-protein (NP) thiols glutathione (GSH), cysteine (CSH), N-acetylcysteine (AcCSH), and protein (P) thiols (PSH), as well as the contribution of these components to symmetric and mixed disulfides (NPSSR, NPSSC, NPSSCAc, PSSR, PSSC, PSSCAc, PSSP) can reliably be measured. The methodology consists of a strict sequence of methods which are applied to every sample. Free thiols at any given state of the procedure are measured by Ellman’s assay, the CSH fraction is measured by its unique response in the ninhydrin assay, AcCSH is selectively measured with ninhydrin after enzymatic deacylation, proteins are separated from non-protein thiols/disulfides by precipitation with trichloroacetic or perchloric acid, disulfides are reduced into free thiols with borohydride, mixed disulfides between a protein and a non-protein component are measured by extracting the non-protein thiol from the protein pellet after borohydride treatment, and protein thiols/disulfides are measured after resolubilization of the protein pellet.

When this method was applied to animal and fungal tissue, new molecular indicators of the thiol redox state of living cells were identified. The findings of the present study clearly show that the new parameters are very sensitive indicators of redox state, while at the same time the traditional parameters GSH and GSSG often remain constant even upon dramatic changes in the overall redox state of biological tissue. Therefore, unbiased assessment of the redox state also requires explicit measurement of its most sensitive thiol indicators.


N-Acetylcysteine Protein/non-protein thiols/disulfides Thiol redox state 



This work was financially supported by the Greek Ministry of Education and by ‘K. Karatheodoris Program’, University of Patras, Greece. Dr D. Synetos and Dr Nikolaos Matsokis (from Biochemistry Department of School of Medicine and from Biology Department, respectively, of the University of Patras, Greece), contributed significantly to this work by providing yeast and mice, respectively.

Supplementary material

Supplementary Material 1 Excel program for the automatic calculation of the statistical mean values of the individual Thiol Redox State Components (TRSC)

00621_final__-Supp_Mat1.xls (23 kb)
(Excel 23 KB)

Supplementary Material 2 Additional data and their discussion

supp.pdf (285 kb)
(PDF 285 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, Department of BiologyUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece

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