Analysis of endogenous H2S and H2Sn in mouse brain by high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence and tandem mass spectrometric detection

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Previous studies indicated that bound sulfur species (BSS), including hydrogen polysulfide (H2Sn), have various physiological functions in mammalian cells. Although H2Sn molecules have been considered as secondary metabolites derived from hydrogen sulfide (H2S) based on in vitro studies or predetermined reaction formula, the physiological form of BSS and their endogenous concentration remain unclear. In the present study, we aimed to improve the usual method using monobromobimane (mBB) followed by high performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) analysis for HS- for simultaneous determination of H2S, H2S2, H2S3 and cysteine persulfide in biological samples. We demonstrated that mBB derivatization of H2S and H2Sn standards under alkaline conditions (pH 9.5) induced significant decreases in H2S2 and H2S3 levels and a significant increase in the H2S level in an incubation time-dependent manner. Conversely, the derivatization of mBB adducts of H2S2 and H2S3 were stable under neutral conditions (pH 7.0), which is physiologically relevant. Therefore, we re-examined the method using mBB and applied an improved method for the evaluation of H2S, H2S2, and H2S3 in mouse brain under physiological pH conditions. The concentrations of H2S and H2S2 were 0.030 ± 0.004 μmol/g protein and 0.026 ± 0.002 μmol/g protein, respectively. Although the level of H2S3 was below the quantification limit of this method, H2S3 was detected in mouse brain. Using the method established here, we reveal for the first time the existence of endogenous H2S2 and H2S3 in mammalian brain tissues. H2S2 and H2S3 exert anti-oxidant activity and anti-carbonyl stress effects through the regulation of redox balance in neuronal cells. Thus, our observations provide novel insights into the physiological functions of BSS in the brain and into neuronal diseases involved in redox imbalance.Graphical abstractHighlightsWe developed an improved analytical method to determine the concentrations of H2S and H2Sn simultaneously.Polysulfide is easily reducible and disappears during assay procedures under alkaline conditions.For the first time, we determined the concentration of endogenous H2S2 in mouse brain.

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