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Clin Chem. 2001 Aug;47(8):1364-72.

Neonatal screening for galactosemia by quantitative analysis of hexose monophosphates using tandem mass spectrometry: a retrospective study.

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Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Statens Serum Institut, 5 Artillerivej, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark.



Classic galactosemia (OMIM 230400) is an inherited disorder in the metabolism of galactose caused by deficiency of the enzyme galactose 1-phosphate uridyl transferase (EC Galactosemia leads to accumulation of galactose and galactose 1-phosphate (gal-1-P) in blood and tissues and, if untreated, produces neonatal death or severe mental retardation, cirrhosis of the liver, and cataracts. Hence, the disorder is included in many neonatal screening programs.


We retrospectively analyzed filter-paper blood samples obtained 4-8 days postpartum for routine neonatal screening from 12 galactosemia patients and 2055 random controls. Total hexose monophosphates (HMPs) were used as a marker of gal-1-P and were assayed by negative-ion mode electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (tandem MS) with settings biased toward gal-1-P detection. The predominant precursor/product ion pair m/z 259/79 was used to quantify total HMPs by external standardization.


Linear calibration curves were obtained in the range 0-8 mmol/L gal-1-P. The detection limit was 0.1 mmol/L HMP, and total CVs ranged from 13% at the detection limit to <8% at >1 mmol/L HMP. The method was in agreement with an alkaline phosphatase-galactose dehydrogenase method. All samples from galactosemia patients contained increased HMP concentrations (range for patients, 2.6-5.2 mmol/L; range for reference group, <0.10-0.94 mmol/L). The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity were 100% at a cutoff of 1.2 mmol/L HMP. A Duarte/classic galactosemia compound heterozygous sample could be discriminated clearly from both patient and reference samples.


Quantitative analysis of HMPs by tandem MS can be used in laboratory investigations of galactosemia.

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