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Anal Chem. 2011 Dec 1;83(23):9107-13. doi: 10.1021/ac202044h. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Nontarget analysis of urine by electrospray ionization-high field asymmetric waveform ion mobility-tandem mass spectrometry.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada.


Nearly a decade after first commercialization, high field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) has yet to find its place in routine chemical analysis. Prototypes have been used to demonstrate the utility of this separation technique combined with mass spectrometry (MS). Unfortunately, first generation commercial FAIMS instruments have gone practically unused by early adopters. Here, we show this to be due to poor ion transmission in the FAIMS-MS source interface. We present simple instrumental modifications and optimization of experimental conditions to achieve good performance from the first generation commercial FAIMS device (the Ionalytics Selectra) coupled to a high resolution Q-TOF-MS. In combination with nanospray ionization, we demonstrate for the first time the nontarget analysis of urine by FAIMS with minimal sample preparation. We show the unique suitability of electrospray ionization (ESI)-FAIMS-MS for identification of low abundance species such as urinary biomarkers of damage of nucleic acids in a complex biological matrix. The elimination of electrospray noise and matrix components by FAIMS and the continuous flow of analytes through FAIMS for accurate and tandem mass analysis produce high quality spectral data suitable for structural identification of unknowns. These characteristics make ESI-FAIMS-MS ideal for nontarget identification, even when compared to high efficiency LC-ESI-MS.

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