Analysis of amino acid composition in proteins of animal tissues and foods as pre-column o-phthaldialdehyde derivatives by HPLC with fluorescence detection Academic Article uri icon


  • Studies of protein nutrition and biochemistry require reliable methods for analysis of amino acid (AA) composition in polypeptides of animal tissues and foods. Proteins are hydrolyzed by 6M HCl (110°C for 24h), 4.2M NaOH (105°C for 20 h), or proteases. Analytical techniques that require high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) include pre-column derivatization with 4-chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan, 9-fluorenyl methylchloroformate, phenylisothiocyanate, naphthalene-2,3-dicarboxaldehyde, 6-aminoquinolyl-N-hydroxysuccinimidyl carbamate, and o-phthaldialdehyde (OPA). OPA reacts with primary AA (except cysteine or cystine) in the presence of 2-mercaptoethanol or 3-mercaptopropionic acid to form a highly fluorescent adduct. OPA also reacts with 4-amino-1-butanol and 4-aminobutane-1,3-diol produced from oxidation of proline and 4-hydroxyproline, respectively, in the presence of chloramine-T plus sodium borohydride at 60°C, or with S-carboxymethyl-cysteine formed from cysteine and iodoacetic acid at 25°C. Fluorescence of OPA derivatives is monitored at excitation and emission wavelengths of 340 and 455 nm, respectively. Detection limits are 50 fmol for AA. This technique offers the following advantages: simple procedures for preparation of samples, reagents, and mobile-phase solutions; rapid pre-column formation of OPA-AA derivatives and their efficient separation at room temperature (e.g., 20-25°C); high sensitivity of detection; easy automation on the HPLC apparatus; few interfering side reactions; a stable chromatography baseline for accurate integration of peak areas; and rapid regeneration of guard and analytical columns. Thus, the OPA method provides a useful tool to determine AA composition in proteins of animal tissues (e.g., skeletal muscle, liver, intestine, placenta, brain, and body homogenates) and foods (e.g., milk, corn grain, meat, and soybean meal).

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Dai, Z., Wu, Z., Jia, S., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 112
  • 116

publication date

  • August 2014