Amino Acids

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 103–114 | Cite as

Development and validation of a sensitive LC–MS/MS assay for the quantification of anserine in human plasma and urine and its application to pharmacokinetic study

  • Inge EveraertEmail author
  • Giovanna Baron
  • Silvia Barbaresi
  • Ettore Gilardoni
  • Crescenzo Coppa
  • Marina Carini
  • Giulio Vistoli
  • Tine Bex
  • Jan Stautemas
  • Laura Blancquaert
  • Wim Derave
  • Giancarlo Aldini
  • Luca Regazzoni
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Carnosine


Carnosine (beta-alanyl-l-histidine) and its methylated analogue anserine are present in relevant concentrations in the omnivore human diet. Several studies reported promising therapeutic potential for carnosine in various rodent models of oxidative stress and inflammation-related chronic diseases. Nevertheless, the poor serum stability of carnosine in humans makes the translation of rodent models hard. Even though anserine and carnosine have similar biochemical properties, anserine has better serum stability. Despite this interesting profile, the research on anserine is scarce. The aim of this study was to explore the bioavailability and stability of synthesized anserine by (1) performing in vitro stability experiments in human plasma and molecular modelling studies and by (2) evaluating the plasma and urinary pharmacokinetic profile in healthy volunteers following different doses of anserine (4–10–20 mg/kg body weight). A bio-analytical method for measuring anserine levels was developed and validated using liquid chromatography-electrospray mass spectrometry. Both plasma (CMAX: 0.54–1.10–3.12 µM) and urinary (CMAX: 0.09–0.41–0.72 mg/mg creatinine) anserine increased dose-dependently following ingestion of 4–10–20 anserine mg/kg BW, respectively. The inter-individual variation in plasma anserine was mainly explained by the activity (R2 = 0.75) and content (R2 = 0.77) of the enzyme serum carnosinase-1. Compared to carnosine, a lower interaction energy of anserine with carnosinase-1 was suggested by molecular modelling studies. Conversely, the two dipeptides seems to have similar interaction with the PEPT1 transporter. It can be concluded that nutritionally relevant doses of synthesized anserine are well-absorbed and that its degradation by serum carnosinase-1 is less pronounced compared to carnosine. This makes anserine a good candidate as a more stable carnosine-analogue to attenuate chronic diseases in humans.


Anserine Carnosine Pharmacokinetics Carnosinase-1 



The practical contribution of Anneke Volkaert is greatly acknowledged. The authors thank Flamma (Italy) for generously providing anserine and carnosine. This work was financially supported by the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) Grant nos. (12R3815N, G035213N), and by the Industrial Research Fund (IOF, Ghent University) Grant F2014/IOF-StarTT/273. Inge Everaert is a recipient of a post-doc Fellowship by Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

726_2018_2663_MOESM1_ESM.docx (83 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 82 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Movement and Sports SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of MilanMilanItaly

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