The Determination of Free and Protein-Bound Haemoglobin in Plasma using a Combination of HPLC and Absorption Spectrometry

Wood, W.G.; Kress, M.; Meissner, D.; Hanke, R. and Hans Reinauer

Clinical Laboratory 47(5-6): 279-288


ISSN/ISBN: 1433-6510
PMID: 11405606
Document Number: 7771
The aim of the study was to develop a method for the determination of haemoglobin in plasma suitable for use to set target values for external quality assessment schemes for this analyte using commercially available test kits and equipment. In the early phase of the method development it became clear that the use of a single method, namely HPLC, would not be possible. However, by combining HPLC and absorption spectrophotometry, both qualitative and quantitative rapid determinations of protein-bound and free haemoglobin were able to be performed on equipment present in most routine clinical chemistry laboratories. The separation of protein-bound and free haemoglobin could be carried out using commercial HPLC equipment for the determination of haemoglobin A 1c . (HbA 1c ) without modification of the conditions used. Instead of haemolysed blood, the same volume of plasma (10 µl) was injected. The eluate was not discarded, but collected in 1-minute fractions so that the void volume (protein-bound Hb) and the haemoglobin peaks (free Hb) were available for the colorimetric determination of haemoglobin using the pseudoperoxidase activity of the haem moiety on hydrogen peroxide and a chromogen (3,3',5,5'-tetramethylbenzidine) in concentrated acetic acid and optimal determination at 600 nm. (In this publication at 578 nm due to the use of a spectrophotometer with Hg-discharge lamp and filter). The appearance of a blue colour in the reaction tube or cuvette indicated the presence of haemoglobin. The use of the above chromogen, with its absorption maximum around 600 nm excluded interference from serum components such as bilirubin, which may interfere in the conventional method often used to determine plasma haemoglobin. The method can be used quantitatively by including an aqueous human haemoglobin standard in the run. This elutes from the HPLC column only as free haemoglobin in the concentration range from 0.1 to 10 g/L. Addition of human haemoglobin to haemoglobin-free plasma resulted in the binding of all Hb to plasma proteins up to a concentration between 2 and 3 g/L (void-volume fraction). At higher concentrations free Hb appeared in the 3 - 5 minute fractions. These observations agree with published data on the scavenging capacity of plasma for Hb released from erythrocytes. The method is rapid, (HPLC-run maximally 6 min, quantitative colorimetric results 5 - 10 min) precise (inter-assay coeffïcients of variation < 8%) and suitable for answering the question as to whether the protein-binding (scavenging) system which prevents the nephro- and cerebrotoxic effects of haemoglobin has been saturated or not, an important question in patients with acute haemolysis problems. A qualitative result is obtainable within 10 minutes of injecting the sample into the HPLC-system. The use of this assay in controlling blood transfusion and haemolytic events arising from surgery, intravascular haemolytic bacteria or artifïcial heart valves can help in rapid corrective action, if needed.

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The Determination of Free and Protein-Bound Haemoglobin in Plasma using a Combination of HPLC and Absorption Spectrometry