This project aims to develop chemical tools to precisely measure the concentration of reactive sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen (RSON) species in living systems. These endogenous small molecule species are critical to healthy function of the heart, lungs, and brain, but if concentrations of RSON species become too high or too low, then this can lead to heart disease, cancer, and neurodegeneration. There is significant clinical interest in targeting RSON signaling for therapeutic benefit and examples included organic nitrates for treating angina, direct inhalation of nitric oxide to treat infants with respiratory failure, and hydrogen sulfide releasing non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for long-term pain management. Despite the increasing importance of these therapeutic approaches, clinical translation and a robust understanding of biological mechanisms are hindered by a lack of methods to precisely measure the concentration of RSON species in real-time. This project aims to use an innovative kinetics-based approach and newly developed chemiluminescent reagents for quantifying the concentrations of peroxynitrite, nitroxyl, hydrogen sulfide, and other RSON species. Specifically, we aim to: 1. Develop chemical probes for real-time quantification of peroxynitrite (ONOO?). ONOO? is an oxidative product of nitric oxide and is a key species that leads to disease when nitric oxide signaling is misregulated. ONOO? production can lead to decoupling of iNOS in response to organic nitrate treatment, contributing to the rapid tolerance of these important drugs. This study will develop methods to quantify the concentration of ONOO? generated by various chemical donors, providing deep clinical insight into next generation therapies. 2. Develop chemical probes for real-time quantification of nitroxyl (HNO). HNO is related to nitric oxide and has similar vasorelaxation properties, with the additional ability to act as an inotropic factor. Importantly, HNO donors are not vulnerable to the same type of tolerance that is observed with organic nitrates. A number of HNO donor compounds have entered into clinical trials. This study will develop methods for measuring the concentration of HNO released from donor molecules in real-time and is expected to accelerate the development and translation of new HNO-based therapies. 3. Develop chemical probes for real-time quantification of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). H2S is a reactive sulfur species that is toxic at high concentrations, but vital for healthy physiology at low concentrations. The body produces H2S enzymatically as a signaling molecule and as a protective agent. The transition from benign to toxic is critically dependent on the concentration and this study will develop new chemical probes to quantify H2S concentration generated from donor compounds and naturally produced by mammalian cells, increasing the understanding of the physiological roles of this molecule and how it could be used in a therapeutic context.

Public Health Relevance

Cell signaling mediated by reactive sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen (RSON) species like nitric oxide (NO), nitroxyl (HNO), and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is already being modulated in the clinic to treat heart disease (nitroglycerin), lung failure (inhaled NO), and erectile dysfunction (Viagra). The full potential of this therapeutic approach is hindered by a lack of methods to measure the concentration of these species produced in healthy and diseased human cells and monitoring how next generation therapies can restore RSON species to healthy concentrations. This study will provide sensitive chemiluminescent methods that, for the first time, will enable the precise measurement of the concentration of RSON species in real-time using an innovative kinetics-based approach.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Synthetic and Biological Chemistry A Study Section (SBCA)
Program Officer
Fabian, Miles
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Southern Methodist University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Cao, Jian; An, Weiwei; Reeves, Audrey G et al. (2018) A chemiluminescent probe for cellular peroxynitrite using a self-immolative oxidative decarbonylation reaction. Chem Sci 9:2552-2558
Reeves, A G; Subbarao, M; Lippert, A R (2017) Imaging Acetaldehyde Formation During Ethanol Metabolism in Living Cells using a Hydrazinyl Naphthalimide Fluorescent Probe. Anal Methods 9:3418-3421
Quimbar, Miguel E; Krenek, Katherine M; Lippert, Alexander R (2016) A chemiluminescent platform for smartphone monitoring of H2O2 in human exhaled breath condensates. Methods 109:123-130
Cao, Jian; Campbell, James; Liu, Li et al. (2016) In Vivo Chemiluminescent Imaging Agents for Nitroreductase and Tissue Oxygenation. Anal Chem 88:4995-5002