Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopic direct determination of low molecular weight biothiols in umbilical cord whole blood†
Biothiols play an essential role in a number of biological processes in living organisms including detoxification and metabolism. Fetal to neonatal transition poses a pro-oxidant threat for newborn infants, especially those born prematurely. A reliable and rapid tool for the direct determination of thiols in small volume whole blood (WB) samples would be desirable for its application in clinical practice. This study shows the feasibility of Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) using a silver colloid prepared by reduction of silver nitrate using hydroxylamine, as the SERS substrate for the quantification of thiols in WB samples after a simple precipitation step for protein removal. Bands originating from biothiols (790, 714 and 642 cm−1) were enhanced by the employed SERS substrate and the specificity of the detected SERS signal was tested for molecules presenting –SH functional groups. A statistically significant correlation between the obtained SERS signals and the thiol concentration measured using a chromatographic reference method in umbilical cord WB samples could be demonstrated. Using WB GSH concentrations obtained from the chromatographic reference procedure, a Partial Least Squares (PLS) regression model covering GSH concentrations from 13 to 2200 μM was calculated obtaining a root mean square error of prediction (RMSEP) of 381 μM when applied to an external test set. The developed approach uses small blood sample volumes (50 μL), which is important for clinical applications, especially in the field of neonatology. This feasibility study shows that the present approach combines all the necessary characteristics for its potential application in clinical practice.