2022 Volume 11 Issue 1 Pages A0112
Proton-transfer-reaction (PTR) mass spectrometry (MS), a widely used method for detecting trace-levels of volatile organic compounds in gaseous samples, can also be used for the analysis of small non-volatile molecules by using supercritical fluid as a transporter for the molecules. Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) is a method that permits lipophilic compounds to be rapidly and selectively extracted from complex matrices. The combination of the high sensitivity of PTR MS with the SFE is a potentially novel method for analyzing small molecules in a single cell, particularly for the analysis of lipophilic compounds. We preliminarily evaluated this method for analyzing the components of a single HeLa cell that is fixed on a stainless steel frit and is then directly introduces the SFE extracts into the PTR MS. A total of 200/91 ions were observed in positive/negative ion mode time-of-flight mass spectra, and the masses of 11/10 ions could be matched to chemical formulae obtained from the LipidMaps lipids structure database. Using various authentic lipophilic samples, the method could be used to detect free fatty acids in the sub-femtomole to femtomole order in the negative ion mode, the femtomole to sub-picomole order for fat-soluble vitamins, and the picomole order for poly aromatic hydrocarbons in both the positive and negative ion mode.