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Three-Phase Electroextraction: A New (Online) Sample Purification and Enrichment Method for Bioanalysis

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posted on 19.02.2016 by Robert-Jan Raterink, Peter W. Lindenburg, Rob J. Vreeken, Thomas Hankemeier
The migration and at the same time enrichment of analytes from a liquid aqueous sample donor phase through an immiscible organic solvent layer acting as a filter phase into a liquid aqueous acceptor phase is enabled by the application of an electric field between the donor and acceptor phase. The organic filter phase acts as a purification filter, which prevents, for example, proteins from migrating into the acceptor phase. Moreover, the composition of the organic filter phase influences the selectivity of the extraction. We show that analytes can be rapidly enriched from a 50 μL donor phase at the bottom of a sample vial, via an immiscible organic filter phase, into a 2 μL acceptor phase which consists of a droplet that is hanging from a (conductive) pipet tip in the organic filter phase. Acylcarnitines spiked to human plasma as a donor phase were extracted reproducibly with good linearity and a 10-fold improved limit of detection and, importantly, resulted in a stable, protein-free nanoelectrospray signal. Finally, a proof of principle toward the online integration in an automated nanoelectrospray-direct infusion-mass spectrometry platform has been realized. This makes 3-phase electroextraction (3-phase EE) a novel sample purification and enrichment method, with straightforward online integration possibility. We envision that 3-phase EE will enable new possibilities using electrokinetic sample pretreatment for fully automated, high-throughput bioanalysis purposes.