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Anal Biochem. 2008 Oct 1;381(1):67-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2008.06.023. Epub 2008 Jun 20.

Determination of serum methylmalonic acid by alkylative extraction and liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry.

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Fleury Medicine and Health, São Paulo 04344-070, Brazil.


Despite the new advances in bioanalytical techniques, the analysis of low-molecular-weight organic acids in complex matrices is still a challenge. Although new strategies applying liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) seem to be promising, sample preparation methodologies hamper its application in most clinical laboratories. The quantitation of methylmalonic acid (MMA) in biological matrices is an emblematic example due to its low concentration, the need for derivatization to increase its molecular weight, and the presence of the physiologically more abundant isomer succinic acid. Here we present a new strategy for rapid and sensitive MMA quantitation by combining alkylative extraction and LC-MS/MS. Alkylative extraction conditions were optimized to allow endogenous detection of MMA using only 50 microL of serum with a short sample preparation procedure. The formation of a unique ion from the MMA dipentafluorobenzyl derivative in negative atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) allowed its detection with high sensitivity and with no interference from succinic acid, a more abundant physiologically present isomer.

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