The Biochemical journal vol:155 issue:2 pages:405-17
Procedures for the synthesis, separation and determination of structure of the bilirubin-IX isomers are described. 1. The four biliverdin-IX isomers were prepared by oxidative cleavage of haemin and were separated as their dimethyl esters. The individual esters were reduced with NaBH4, and the bilirubin esters obtained were subjected to alkaline hydrolysis yielding the corresponding bilirubin-IX isomers. 2. The bilirubin-IX isomers were structurally characterized (a) at the tetrapyrrolic stage by mass spectrometry of their trimethylsilyl derivatives and (b) by formation and structural analysis of their dipyrrolic ethyl anthranilate azo derivatives. 3. The absorption spectrum of bilirubin-IX alpha differed strikingly from the spectra of the other isomers. The presence of a pronounced shoulder around 453 nm in the spectrum of bilirubin-IXbeta allows easy differentiation from bilirubin-IXdelta. Methylation of the carboxyl groups largely eliminates the spectral differences between the IXalpha- and non-alpha isomers. 4. The bilirubin-IX isomers are conveniently separated by t.l.c. Detection and unequivocal identification is possible on a micro-scale by (a) t.l.c. with respect to reference compounds and (b) subsequent formation and t.l.c. of the more stable ethyl anthranilate azopigments. 5. Pronounced differences in polarity, i.e. solvent distribution, between the bilirubin-IX isomers indicate that a re-evaluation of conclusions reached previously with regard to the presence in, or absence from, biological fluids of some isomers and their relative amounts is needed.