We report spectrophotometric methods for quantifying sodium and potassium in serum and plasma without sample pretreatment or solvent-extraction steps. The methods are based on novel chromogenic ionophores characterized by molecular structures highly preorganized for binding, which result in exceptionally high sensitivity and selectivity (negligible responses to sodium at 80 to 200 mmol/L in the potassium assay and to potassium at 0 to 10 mmol/L in the sodium assay). The within-run imprecisions are comparable with those for ion-selective electrodes (for K, 1.0% at 4.5 mmol/L; for Na, 1.1% at 136 mmol/L); the analytical range is 2-10 mmol/L for potassium, 80-170 mmol/L for sodium. The results for greater than 100 patients' samples correlated well with results obtained with ion-selective electrodes (r = 0.99 for K, 0.97 for Na). The ready-to-use aqueous reagents will be available under the trade name of ChromoLyte for use with Technicon's RA family of clinical analyzers.
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