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Quantitation of Urinary Acylcarnitines by DMS-MS/MS Uncovers the Effects of Total Body Irradiation in Cancer Patients

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journal contribution
posted on 27.01.2020, 20:47 by Nicholas B. Vera, Stephen L. Coy, Evagelia C. Laiakis, Albert J. Fornace, Michelle Clasquin, Christopher A. Barker, Jeffrey A. Pfefferkorn, Paul Vouros
Acylcarnitines have been identified in human and animal metabolomic-profiling studies as urinary markers of radiation exposure, a result which is consistent with their cytoprotective effects and roles in energy metabolism. In the present work, a rapid method for quantitation of the more abundant acylcarnitines in human urine is developed using a valuable set of samples from cancer patients who received total body irradiation (TBI) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The method uses solid-phase extraction (SPE) processing followed by differential mobility spectrometry (DMS with ethyl acetate modifier) tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-DMS-MS/MS) with deuterated internal standards. The analyzed human urine samples were collected from 38 individual patients at three time points over 24 h during and after the course of radiation treatment, a design allowing each patient to act as their own control and creatinine normalization. Creatinine-normalized concentrations for nine urinary acylcarnitine (acyl-CN) species are reported. Six acyl-CN species were reduced at the 6 h point. Acetylcarnitine (C2:0-CN) and valerylcarnitine (C5:0-CN) showed recovery at 24 h, but none of the other acyl-CN species showed recovery at that point. Levels of three acyl-CN species were not significantly altered by radiation. This rapid quantitative method for clinical samples covers the short- and medium-chain acylcarnitines and has the flexibility to be expanded to cover additional radiation-linked metabolites. The human data presented here indicates the utility of the current approach as a rapid, quantitative technique with potential applications by the medical community, by space research laboratories concerned with radiation exposure, and by disaster response groups.