Retinoids pp 149-162 | Cite as

HPLC / MSN Analysis of Retinoids

  • James E. Evans
  • Peter McCaffery
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 652)


This protocol describes a highly sensitive and selective method to quantify retinoids using normal-phase HPLC with online APCI MSN. The retinoids are key regulators of gene expression, retinol being oxidized via a retinaldehyde intermediate to retinoic acid (RA) which activates specific nuclear receptors, the signalling of which is turned off by oxidative inactivation of the ligand to 4-oxo-RA and other metabolites. Many of these retinoids are present only transiently at low concentrations in tissues and during analysis are labile to heat, light, and oxygen. HPLC with online APCI MSN provides a rapid technique to quantify these retinoids simultaneously. Techniques to extract the retinoids and prevent their degradation are described, with an emphasis on transcriptionally active RA. RA controls patterning of gene expression in the embryo, organizing embryonic morphology in the central nervous system. Similarly, a patterned distribution of RA controls function of the adult CNS, a tissue particularly difficult to analyse for RA because of its high lipid content. To understand how these patterns are organized in the brain and change over time, it is essential to determine the concentration of RA in small areas of tissues, and techniques of exquisite sensitivity are indispensable.

Key words

Retinoic acid retinol retinaldehyde 4-oxo retinoic acid high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry brain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • James E. Evans
    • 1
  • Peter McCaffery
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular PharmacologyUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Medical SciencesSchool of Medical SciencesForesterhillScotland

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