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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The esterase-like activity of serum albumin may be due to cholinesterase contamination.

PURPOSE: The "esterase-like activity" of human serum albumin (HSA) is described in the literature, but a contamination of commercially available HSA preparations by plasma cholinesterase is conceivable in some cases. The purpose of the present work was to examine this hypothesis. METHODS: The hydrolytic activity of HSA and its inhibition by physostigmine were measured fluorimetrically by monitoring the hydrolysis of the ester substrate moxisylyte. Affinity chromatography was used to separate cholinesterase and HSA. The cholinesterase activity in the eluted fractions was assessed using Ellman's reagent and butyrylthiocholine as substrate. RESULTS: A significant variation in the esterase-like activity of different albumin batches was observed. This activity was strongly inhibited by physostigmine, a well-known inhibitor of cholinesterase. Affinity chromatography led to a complete separation between HSA and the esterase activity, which was found exclusively in the cholinesterase fraction. CONCLUSIONS: The apparent esterase-like activity of HSA toward moxisylyte and butyrylthiocholine was due to a contamination by cholinesterase. With these substrates, HSA showed a total lack of esterase-like activity.[1]


  1. The esterase-like activity of serum albumin may be due to cholinesterase contamination. Chapuis, N., Brühlmann, C., Reist, M., Carrupt, P.A., Mayer, J.M., Testa, B. Pharm. Res. (2001) [Pubmed]
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