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J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2010 Jan 1;878(1):68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2009.11.021.

Quantification of key folate forms in serum using stable-isotope dilution ultra performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

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Saarland University Hospital, Department of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Building 57, 66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany.


Folates act as essential coenzymes in many biological pathways. Alteration in folate form distribution might have biological significance, especially in relation to certain genetic polymorphisms. We developed a stable-isotope dilution ultra performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) method for quantification of the folate forms 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-methylTHF), 5-formylTHF, 5,10-methenylTHF, THF, and folic acid in serum. After extraction using an ion exchange and mixed mode solid-phase, samples were separated and detected using an UPLC-MS/MS system. The quantification limits were between 0.17nmol/L (5-formylTHF) and 1.79nmol/L (THF), and the assay was linear up to 100nmol/L (5-methylTHF) and 10nmol/L (5-formylTHF, 5,10-methenylTHF, THF, and folic acid). The intraassay CVs for 5-methylTHF and 5-formylTHF were 2.0% and 7.2%, respectively. Mean recoveries were between 82.3% for THF and 110.8% for 5,10-methenylTHF. Concentrations of total folate measured by the new method showed a strong correlation with those measured by an immunologic assay (r=0.939; p<0.001). The mean total folate from 32 apparently healthy subjects was 18.09nmol/L, of which 87.23% was 5-methylTHF. Concentrations of homocysteine showed a better correlation to the total folate measured by the new method compared to that obtained by an immunologic assay. We also confirmed that MTHFR polymorphism has a significant effect on folate distribution in this small population of non-supplemented subjects.

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