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Metabolomics. 2008 Jun;4(2):128-140.

Towards high-throughput metabolomics using ultrahigh-field Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry.

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J. Han, C. H. Borchers, University of Victoria - Genome BC Proteomics Centre, Vancouver Island Technology Park, #3101-4464 Markham St., Victoria, BC, Canada V8Z 7X8.


With unmatched mass resolution, mass accuracy, and exceptional detection sensitivity, Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry (FTICR-MS) has the potential to be a powerful new technique for high-throughput metabolomic analysis. In this study, we examine the properties of an ultrahigh-field 12-Tesla (12T) FTICR-MS for the identification and absolute quantitation of human plasma metabolites, and for the untargeted metabolic fingerprinting of inbred-strain mouse serum by direct infusion (DI). Using internal mass calibration (mass error ≤1 ppm), we determined the rational elemental compositions (incorporating unlimited C, H, N and O, and a maximum of two S, three P, two Na, and one K per formula) of approximately 250 out of 570 metabolite features detected in a 3-min infusion analysis of aqueous extract of human plasma, and were able to identify more than 100 metabolites. Using isotopically-labeled internal standards, we were able to obtain excellent calibration curves for the absolute quantitation of choline with sub-pmol sensitivity, using 500 times less sample than previous LC/MS analyses. Under optimized serum dilution conditions, chemical compounds spiked into mouse serum as metabolite mimics showed a linear response over a 600-fold concentration range. DI/FTICR-MS analysis of serum from 26 mice from 2 inbred strains, with and without acute trichloroethylene (TCE) treatment, gave a relative standard deviation (RSD) of 4.5%. Finally, we extended this method to the metabolomic fingerprinting of serum samples from 49 mice from 5 inbred strains involved in an acute alcohol toxicity study, using both positive and negative electrospray ionization (ESI). Using these samples, we demonstrated the utility of this method for high-throughput metabolomics, with more than 400 metabolites profiled in only 24 h. Our experiments demonstrate that DI/FTICR-MS is well-suited for high-throughput metabolomic analysis.

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