A quantitative method for the analysis of glycated and glutathionylated hemoglobin by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry

Antonino Biroccio, Andrea Urbani, Renato Massoud, Carmine Di Ilio, Paolo Sacchetta, Sergio Bernardini, Claudio Cortese, Giorgio Federici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The quantization of glycated isoforms of hemoglobin has been increasingly used in clinical practice in recent years. Glycated hemoglobin is currently considered the most important measurement for long-term control of the glycemic state and it has become a reference tool for the management of diabetes. Glutathionylated hemoglobin is an increasingly clinically relevant covalent adduct of glutathione with β chain of the globin and its concentration has been correlated with oxidative stress. We have developed an innovative technique based on linear mode matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry for quantitative analysis of hemoglobin species. This method was applied to the quantification of glycated and glutathionylated hemoglobin. A rigorous comparison was pursued to evaluate the analytical performances in quantifying glycated hemoglobin in comparison to an established high-performance liquid chromatography method. Our results indicated a complete equivalence between the two methods. The same analysis enabled the quantitative determination of the glutathionylated hemoglobin fraction. This isoform was investigated in an adult Italian population (184 individuals, 101 males and 83 females), indicating a bimodal distribution of this species. In fact 65.22% of screened individuals had glutathionylated hemoglobin levels lower than 0.50% while 34.78% had glutathionylated hemoglobin levels higher than 0.50%. A semiautomatic robotic procedure was developed for fast analysis of a large number of samples. This is the first report of a quantitative application of linear MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry for the determination of glutathionylated hemoglobin in blood samples. This method allows fast screening of this hemoglobin isoform, therefore opening the route to explore its specificity and sensitivity as a molecular biomarker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-288
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 15 2005



  • Glutathione
  • HbA
  • Hemoglobin
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology

Cite this