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In Matrix Derivatization Combined with LC-MS/MS Results in Ultrasensitive Quantification of Plasma Free Metanephrines and Catecholamines

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journal contribution
posted on 12.06.2020, 20:04 by Martijn van Faassen, Rainer Bischoff, Karin Eijkelenkamp, Wilhelmina H. A. de Jong, Claude P. van der Ley, Ido P. Kema
Plasma-free metanephrines and catecholamines are essential markers in the biochemical diagnosis and follow-up of neuroendocrine tumors and inborn errors of metabolism. However, their low circulating concentrations (in the nanomolar range) and poor fragmentation characteristics hinder facile simultaneous quantification by liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Here, we present a sensitive and simple matrix derivatization procedure using propionic anhydride that enables simultaneous quantification of unconjugated l-DOPA, catecholamines, and metanephrines in plasma by LC-MS/MS. Dilution of propionic anhydride 1:4 (v/v) in acetonitrile in combination with 50 μL of plasma resulted in the highest mass spectrometric response. In plasma, derivatization resulted in stable derivatives and increased sensitivity by a factor of 4–30 compared with a previous LC-MS/MS method for measuring plasma metanephrines in our laboratory. Furthermore, propionylation increased specificity, especially for 3-methoxytyramine, by preventing interference from antihypertensive medication (β-blockers). The method was validated according to international guidelines and correlated with a hydrophilic interaction LC-MS/MS method for measuring plasma metanephrines (R2 > 0.99) and high-performance liquid chromatography with an electrochemical detection method for measuring plasma catecholamines (R2 > 0.85). Reference intervals for l-DOPA, catecholamines, and metanephrines in n = 115 healthy individuals were established. Our work shows that analytes in the subnanomolar range in plasma can be derivatized in situ without any preceding sample extraction. The developed method shows improved sensitivity and selectivity over existing methods and enables simultaneous quantification of several classes of amines.