Elevated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), are assumed to be related to delayed vasospasm after subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH). However, data on CSF concentrations of l-arginine, ADMA and its structural isomer symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) are very sparse in humans. We here present a new hydrophilic interaction chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HILIC-MS-MS) method for the precise determination of these substances in CSF. The method requires only minimal sample preparation and features isotope labeled internal standards. First data of patients with SAH showed that on the day of admission CSF concentration values of l-arginine and ADMA were not significantly different from controls, but increased markedly during the course of the hospital stay. The decrease of the l-arginine to ADMA ratio points to a progressive impairment of the NO production rate in the brain after SAH which is confirmed by a simultaneous decrease in nitrate and nitrite concentrations in CSF.
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