Biochimica et biophysica acta

Two biologically active isomers of dihydroouabain isolated from a commercial preparation.

PMID 10564763


Ouabain is a plant-derived cardiac glycoside that inhibits the catalytic activity of Na(+),K(+)-ATPase (sodium pump; NKA). Dihydroouabain, a derivative of ouabain with a reduced lactone ring, is commonly used as a sodium pump antagonist. It has been assumed that commercially available dihydroouabain is homogeneous. We now report that preparations of dihydroouabain contain two components each with a different potency for inhibition of sodium pump activity. We used reverse-phase HPLC chromatography, UV spectrophotometry, electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and two independent bioassays to characterize these compounds. The two dihydroouabain fractions (Dho-A and Dho-B) resolved by 3 min chromatographically, had UV absorbance maxima at 196 nm, and comprised 37% and 63% of the stock dihydroouabain, respectively. The molar potency of each component for inhibition of NKA from porcine cerebral cortex differed by 4. 4-fold (Dho-A, IC(50) = 7.13 +/- 0.8 microM; Dho-B, IC(50) = 1.63 +/- 0.12 microM). The relative potencies were 9% and 40% of those of ouabain, respectively. A similar pattern for phosphorylation of NKA was observed. Mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) and fragmentation patterns are consistent with Dho-A and Dho-B being isomers of identical molecular mass (587 Da) and each with six hydroxyl groups, a deoxyhexose sugar moiety and a lactone ring. Furthermore, NMR spectroscopy revealed structural differences between Dho-A and Dho-B by displaying noticeably different chemical shifts at only two groups of proton resonances assigned to H-21 and H-22. The ESI-MS and NMR results confirm the presence of the isomerism at C20 of the lactone ring. Our results demonstrate the existence of two molecular forms of dihydroouabain, each with a different biological potency. These findings underscore the importance of characterizing the purity of dihydroouabain commercial preparations. It also provides possible molecular models for investigating the metabolism of endogenous ouabain-like factors recently reported in mammals.