Applications of hydrogen isotopes in the life sciences

Atzrodt, Jens and Derdau, Volker and Kerr, William J. and Reid, Marc (2017) Applications of hydrogen isotopes in the life sciences. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. pp. 1-26. ISSN 1433-7851 (

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Hydrogen isotopes are unique tools for identifying and understanding biological or chemical processes. Hydrogen isotope labeling allows for a traceless and direct incorporation of an additional mass or radioactive tag into an organic molecule with almost no change in its chemical structure, physical properties or biological activity. Using deuterium labeled isotopologues to study the unique mass spectrometric (MS)-pattern generated from mixtures of biological relevant molecules drastically simplifies analysis. Such methods are now providing unprecedented levels of insight in a wide and continuously growing range of applications in the life sciences and beyond. Tritium (3H), in particular, has seen an increased utilization, especially in pharmaceutical drug discovery. The efforts and costs required for the synthesis of labeled compounds are more than compensated for by the enhanced molecular sensitivity for analysis and high reliability of the data obtained. In this review, advances in the applications of hydrogen isotopes in the life sciences are described.


Atzrodt, Jens, Derdau, Volker, Kerr, William J. ORCID logoORCID: and Reid, Marc ORCID logoORCID:;