Methylglyoxal (MG), an α-dicarbonyl compound, can be produced in vivo by several metabolic pathways and the Maillard reaction. It reacts rapidly with proteins to form advanced glycation end products or AGEs. We previously isolated and characterized a blue fluorescent product of the reaction between MG and arginine, which we named argpyrimidine. We found that argpyrimidine was stable to acid hydrolysis, which allowed us to hydrolyze tissue proteins with 6 N HCI and quantify argpyrimidine by high-performance liquid chromatography. Here we report argpyrimidine concentrations in human lens and serum proteins as determined by HPLC. We have also measured pentosidine, a fluorescent AGE derived from pentose sugars, and compared the concentrations of pentosidine and argpyrimidine. We found two- to threefold higher argpyrimidine concentrations in diabetic serum proteins than in nondiabetic controls (9.3 ± 6.7 vs 4.4 ± 3.4 pmol/mg). We found a significant correlation (P = 0.0001) between serum protein argpyrimidine and glycosylated hemoglobin. Argpyrimidine concentrations were approximately seven times greater in brunescent cataractous lenses than in aged noncataractous lenses. Pentosidine concentrations in serum and lens proteins were much lower than argpyrimidine concentrations; in general, argpyrimidine levels were 10-25 times higher than pentosidine. Results from our study confirm that MG-mediated arginine modifications occur in vivo and provide a method for assessing protein-arginine modification by MG in aging and diabetes. © 2001 Academic Press.
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