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Sensitive and Reproducible Mass Spectrometry-Compatible RP-UHPLC Analysis of Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle and Related Metabolites in Biological Fluids: Application to Human Urine

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journal contribution
posted on 23.12.2020, 18:07 by Kerri M. Smith, Ian D. Wilson, Paul D. Rainville
We describe a method for the analysis of organic acids, including those of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle), by mixed-mode reversed-phase chromatography, on a CSH Phenyl-Hexyl column, to accomplish mixed-mode anion-exchange separations, which results in increased retention for acids without the need for ion-pairing reagents or other mobile phase additives. The developed method exhibited good retention time reproducibility for over 650 injections or more than 5 days of continuous operation. Additionally, it showed excellent resolution of the critical pairs, isocitric acid and citric acid as well as malic acid and fumaric acid, among others. The use of hybrid organic-inorganic surface technology incorporated into the hardware of the column not only improved the mass spectral quality and subsequent database match scoring but also increased the recovery of the analytes, showing particular benefit for low concentrations of phosphorylated species. The method was applied to the comparative metabolomic analysis of urine samples from healthy controls and breast cancer positive subjects. Unsupervised PCA analysis showed distinct grouping of samples from healthy and diseased subjects, with excellent reproducibility of respective injection clusters. Finally, abundance plots of selected analytes from the tricarboxylic acid cycle revealed differences between healthy control and disease groups.