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Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2013 Jun 30;27(12):1311-8. doi: 10.1002/rcm.6566.

Transmission mode direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry for fast untargeted metabolic fingerprinting.

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School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, 901 Atlantic Drive NW, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA.



Untargeted metabolic fingerprinting is a discovery tool to better understand biochemical processes involved in detecting and characterizing disease states and responses to environmental stressors. Although current mass spectrometric (MS) methods are very powerful, there is a clear need for more rapid, high-throughput MS approaches for metabolomics studies.


A rapid metabolic fingerprinting method for human blood sera that utilizes a new transmission mode direct analysis in real time (TM-DART) sampling technique coupled with quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometry (QTOFMS) is presented. In this approach, the sample is deposited directly on a stainless steel mesh that is held in the ionization region by a custom-built module. As a result, the DART plasma gas stream interacts with the sample in a flow-through fashion, which maximizes the interaction between the sample and ionizing species and minimizes variance in sample positioning.


The optimization of TM-DART parameters directly affecting metabolite desorption and ionization, such as sample position and ionizing gas desorption temperature, was critical in achieving high sensitivity and detecting a broad mass range of metabolites. Ramping the ionizing gas desorption temperature further enhanced analysis by adding a simple separation dimension to this ambient approach. In terms of reproducibility, TM-DART compared favorably with traditional probe mode (PM-) DART analysis, with coefficients of variation as low as 16%. The longer-lasting TM-DART signals enabled the acquisition of metabolite full scan and product ion accurate mass spectra in a single experiment, resulting in greater confidence in metabolite identification.


TM-DART MS proved to be a powerful analytical technique for rapid metabolome analysis of human blood sera.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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