Improved method for estimation of inorganic phosphate: Implications for its application in enzyme assays

Samir P. Patel, Minai A. Patel, Hiren R. Modi, Surendra S. Katyare

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3 Scopus citations


The conventional method of Fiske and Subba Row for the estimation of inorganic phosphate (Pi) is although rapid, but suffers from the disadvantage that the color is unstable and hence the optical density (OD) measurements have to be carried out within a short time span of 8-12 min. This poses a restriction on the number of samples, which can be handled in a batch. Although, modified procedures involving use of alternate reducing agents/or increasing the concentration of H2SO4 in conventional method have been subsequently developed, but the problem of color stability could not be solved. In addition, the use of higher concentrations H2SO4 has rendered the methods unsuitable in enzyme assays, especially if the acid labile phosphate containing substrates have been used. In the present study, attempts have been made to suitably modify the method to improve the stability of the color and sensitivity and also for its applicability in enzyme assays, especially when acid labile phosphate containing substrates such as ATP is used. We used lhe higher concentrations (0.625, 0.8 and 1.0 N) of H 2SO4 rather than 0.5 N used in the conventional assay procedures. Under these conditions, the reagent blanks do not develop color for up to 24 h, whereas the intensity of the molybdenum blue color in the standard and/or experimental tubes increased with time reaching optimum value at 24 h. Simultaneously, the absorption maximum shifts from 660 nm to 820 nm. The highest concentration of H2SO4 (1.0 AO is found to be the most effective in the process of color development. The sensitivity of the method is from 1.7 to 2.1 times higher, as compared to the conventional Fiske and Subba Row method for the measurements carried out at the end of 15 min at 820 nm and with the highest concentration of H2SO4 (1.0 N) the sensitivity increased 4.8-fold at the end of 24 h. Presence of glucose and sucrose (1-10 mM), NaCl and KCl (5-100 mW), MgCl2 (1-10 mM) and BSA (10 to 500 μg per assay tube) do not interfere either with color development or with OD measurements. The extent of ATP hydrolysis is 1.6 to 3.4% for up to 1 h, depending upon the concentration of H2SO4 used. Only negligible hydrolysis of G6P is observed under these conditions. These results suggest that the presently modified method is suitable for Pi analysis in the enzyme assays, in the presence of labile phosphate containing substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-93
Number of pages6
JournalIndian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Improved sensitivity
  • Molybdenum blue color
  • Pi determination
  • Stabilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


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