Measurement of serum L-asparagine in the presence of L-asparaginase requires the presence of an L-asparaginase inhibitor.


Journal Article

The antileukemic activity of L-asparaginase (ASNase), an important component of therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, is thought to result from depletion of serum L-asparagine (Asn). In studies of the pharmacological effects of ASNase, investigators have reported prolonged reduction in the serum concentration of Asn after the administration of ASNase. Such measurements may not be valid because ASNase present in the blood sample may hydrolyze Asn before its determination. We examined recovery of [U-14C]Asn from blood samples with and without various concentrations of added ASNase. In the presence of greater than or equal to 0.01 IU/ml of ASNase, the amount of [U-14C]Asn recovered was less than 15% of that without ASNase. Utilizing this assay, we studied the effect of 2 known inhibitors of ASNase in an attempt to improve Asn recovery. In the presence of aspartic beta semialdehyde (ASA), or 5-diazo-4-oxo-L-norvaline (DONV), and up to 1.0 IU/ml ASNase, Asn levels remained at greater than 90% of control. ASA prevented the hydrolysis of exogenous Asn in blood samples drawn from patients after ASNase injection. We also developed a method to determine Asn in serum utilizing high pressure liquid chromatography. Using this method, we found that the Asn level was greater than 90% of a normal level in the presence of 40 mM DONV and 1.0 IU/ml ASNase. Examination of serum from 4 patients treated with ASNase showed that Asn is detectable 7-19 days sooner when DONV is present in the blood collection system than in its absence. We conclude that: (a) as little as 0.01 IU/ml ASNase can hydrolyze Asn added to blood; (b) continued hydrolysis of Asn by ASNase ex vivo can result in falsely low serum Asn measurements; (c) ASA or DONV present in the collection tubes obviates the problem of continued ASNase activity; and (d) the degree and duration of Asn depletion after ASNase therapy is much less than previously believed. Thus, for accurate measurements of the duration and degree of Asn depletion by ASNase, an ASNase inhibitor such as ASA or DONV should be present in the blood collection system.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Asselin, BL; Lorenson, MY; Whitin, JC; Coppola, DJ; Kende, AS; Blakley, RL; Cohen, HJ

Published Date

  • December 1991

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 51 / 24

Start / End Page

  • 6568 - 6573

PubMed ID

  • 1742729

Pubmed Central ID

  • 1742729

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-7445

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0008-5472


  • eng