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J Chromatogr A. 2007 Mar 2;1143(1-2):243-51. Epub 2006 Dec 21.

New coupling of planar chromatography with direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry.

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Institute of Food Chemistry, University of Hohenheim, Garbenstrasse 28, D-70599 Stuttgart, Germany.


The coupling of planar chromatography with direct analysis in real time time-of-flight mass spectrometry (DART-TOF-MS) was shown for the first time. Cutting the plate within a track led to substance zones positioned on the plate edge which were directly introduced into the DART gas stream. Mass signals were obtained instantaneously within seconds. Detectability was shown in the very low ng-range per zone on the example of isopropylthioxanthone. The coupling was perfectly suited for identification and qualitative purposes, but it was initially critical for quantification of results. Analytical response (R2 0.8202) and repeatability were strongly dependent from proper manual positioning of the HPTLC plate into the electronic or vibronic excited-state gas stream of the ion source. This drawback was overcome by using stable isotope-labeled standards shown on the example of caffeine. This way, analytical response (R2 0.9892) and repeatability (RSD < +/- 5.4%, n=6) were improved to a high extent. Spatial resolution by an in-house-built plate holder system was shown to be better than 3 mm. The decay of the signal was observed. The efficacy of this new coupling was compared to a plunger-based extraction device for HPTLC/electrospray ionisation-MS. The latter device showed detectability down to the pg-range, e.g. the limit of quantification for isopropylthioxanthone was found to be 100 pg. Repeatability was comparable (RSD +/- 6.7%), however, without the need of internal standard correction. Analytical response was slightly better and showed a determination coefficient R2 of 0.9983. Similar data were obtained for caffeine as well. Spatial resolution was 2 mm or 4 mm depending on the plunger head used. The comparison showed that HPTLC/DART-TOF-MS is a useful coupling method regarding qualitative aspects and it has the potential to cope also with the difficulties of quantification if isotope-labeled standards were used or if a plate holder system is employed as initially shown.

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