Metabolomics is a strategy for analysis, and quantification of the complete collection of metabolites present in biological samples. Metabolomics is an emerging area of scientific research because there are many application areas including clinical, agricultural, and medical researches for the biomarker discovery and the metabolic system analysis by employing widely targeted analysis of a few hundred preselected metabolites from 10–100 biological samples. Further improvement in technologies of mass spectrometry in terms of experimental design for larger scale analysis, computational methods for tandem mass spectrometry-based elucidation of metabolites, and specific instrumentation for advanced bioanalysis will enable more comprehensive metabolome analysis for exploring the hidden secrets of metabolism.
A method for the simultaneous determination of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] and its 3-sulfate [25(OH)D3S] in newborn plasma, which is expected to be helpful in the assessment of the vitamin D status, using stable isotope-dilution liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/ESI-MS/MS) has been developed and validated. The plasma was pretreated based on the deproteinization and solid-phase extraction, then subjected to derivatization with 4-(4-dimethylaminophenyl)-1,2,4-triazoline-3,5-dione (DAPTAD). The derivatization enabled the accurate quantification of 25(OH)D3 without interference from 3-epi-25(OH)D3 and also facilitated the simultaneous determination of the two metabolites by LC/positive ESI-MS/MS. Quantification was based on the selected reaction monitoring with the characteristic fragmentation of the DAPTAD-derivatives during MS/MS. This method was reproducible (intra- and inter-assay relative standard deviations of 7.8% or lower for both metabolites) and accurate (analytical recovery, 95.4–105.6%). The limits of quantification were 1.0 ng/mL and 2.5 ng/mL for 25(OH)D3 and 25(OH)D3S, respectively, when using a 20-μL sample. The developed method was applied to the simultaneous determination of plasma 25(OH)D3 and 25(OH)D3S in newborns; it was recognized that the plasma concentration of 25(OH)D3S is significantly higher than that of 25(OH)D3, and preterm newborns have lower plasma 25(OH)D3S concentrations than full-term newborns.
In the urine of a Niemann–Pick disease type C (NPC) patient, we have identified three characteristic intense peaks that have not been observed in the urine of a 3β-hydroxysteroid-Δ5-C27-steroid dehydrogenase deficiency patient or a healthy infant and adult. Based on accurate masses of the protonated molecules, we focused on two of them as candidate NPC diagnostic markers. Two synthesized authentic preparations agreed with the two compounds found in NPC patient urine in regard to both chromatographic behavior and accurate masses of the deprotonated molecules. Moreover, the isotopic patterns of the deprotonated molecules, twin peaks unique to the sulfur-containing compounds appearing in their second isotope positions, and accurate masses of product ions observed at m/z 97 also agreed between the target compounds and authentic preparations. We identified the two compounds as the sulfated cholesterol metabolites as 3β-sulfooxy-7β-hydroxy-5-cholen-24-oic acid and 3β-sulfooxy-7-oxo-5-cholen-24-oic acid. These two compounds represent more promising candidate diagnostic markers for NPC diagnosis than three other candidates that are multiple conjugates of cholesterol metabolites, 3β-sulfooxy-7β-N-acetylglucosaminyl-5-cholen-24-oic acid and its glycine and taurine conjugates, although we have reported an analytical method for determining the urinary levels of these compounds using liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry, because of their lack of N-acetylglucosamine conjugation.
Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) with ambient sampling and ionization can rapidly and easily capture the distribution of chemical components in a solid sample. Because the spatial resolution of MSI is limited by the size of the sampling area, reducing sampling size is an important goal for high resolution MSI. Here, we report the first use of a nanopipette for sampling and ionization by tapping-mode scanning probe electrospray ionization (t-SPESI). The spot size of the sampling area of a dye molecular film on a glass substrate was decreased to 6 μm on average by using a nanopipette. On the other hand, ionization efficiency increased with decreasing solvent flow rate. Our results indicate the compatibility between a reduced sampling area and the ionization efficiency using a nanopipette. MSI of micropatterns of ink on a glass and a polymer substrate were also demonstrated.
Though equilibrium vapor pressures are utilized to determine thermodynamic properties of not only gaseous species but also condensed phases, the obtained data often disagree by a factor of 100 and more. A new data analysis method is proposed using the so-called second and third law procedures to improve accuracy of vapor pressure measurements. It was found from examination of vapor pressures of cesium metaborate and silver that the analysis of the difference between the second and third law values can result in determination of an optimal data set. Since the new thermodynamic method does not require special techniques and or experiences in dealing with measured data, it is reliable and versatile to improve the accuracy of vapor pressure evaluation.
Atmospheric pressure corona discharge (APCD) was applied to the ionization of volatile organic compounds. The mass spectra of analytes having aromatic, phenolic, anilinic, basic and aliphatic in nature were obtained by using vapor supply and liquid smear supply methods. The vapor supply method mainly gave protonated analytes [A+H]+ caused by proton transfer from hydronium ion H3O+, except for benzene, toluene and n-hexane that have lower proton affinity. The use of the liquid smear supply method resulted in the formation of molecular ion A·+ and/or dehydride analyte [A−H]+, according to the nature of analytes used. The formation of A·+ without fragment ions could be explained by the electron tunneling via high electric fields 108 V/m at the tip of the corona needle. The dehydride analytes [A−H]+ observed in the mass spectra of n-hexane, di- and tributylamines may be explained by the hydride abstraction from the alkyl chains by the hydronium ion. The hydronium ion can play the two-roles for analytes, i.e., the proton donor to form [A+H]+ and the hydride acceptor to form [A−H]+.
We report on combining a self-aspirated sampling probe and an ESI source using a single metal capillary which is electrically grounded and safe for use by the operator. To generate an electrospray, a negative H.V. is applied to the counter electrode of the ESI emitter to operate in positive ion mode. The sampling/ESI capillary is enclosed within another concentric capillary similar to the arrangement for a standard pneumatically assisted ESI source. The suction of the liquid sample is due to the Venturi effect created by the high-velocity gas flow near the ESI tip. In addition to serving as the mechanism for suction, the high-velocity gas flow also assists in the nebulization of charged droplets, thus producing a stable ion signal. Even though the potential of the ion source counter electrode is more negative than the mass spectrometer in the positive ion mode, the electric field effect is not significant if the ion source and the mass spectrometer are separated by a sufficient distance. Ion transmission is achieved by the viscous flow of the carrier gas. Using the present arrangement, the user can hold the ion source in a bare hand and the ion signal appears almost immediately when the sampling capillary is brought into contact with the liquid sample. The automated analysis of multiple samples can also be achieved by using motorized sample stage and an automated ion source holder.