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Mass Spectrom Rev. 2016 May-Jun;35(3):361-438. doi: 10.1002/mas.21441. Epub 2014 Sep 22.

The use of mass spectrometry to analyze dried blood spots.

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School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Geneva, University of Lausanne, Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry, Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30, 1211, Geneva, Switzerland.


Dried blood spots (DBS) typically consist in the deposition of small volumes of capillary blood onto dedicated paper cards. Comparatively to whole blood or plasma samples, their benefits rely in the fact that sample collection is easier and that logistic aspects related to sample storage and shipment can be relatively limited, respectively, without the need of a refrigerator or dry ice. Originally, this approach has been developed in the sixties to support the analysis of phenylalanine for the detection of phenylketonuria in newborns using bacterial inhibition test. In the nineties tandem mass spectrometry was established as the detection technique for phenylalanine and tyrosine. DBS became rapidly recognized for their clinical value: they were widely implemented in pediatric settings with mass spectrometric detection, and were closely associated to the debut of newborn screening (NBS) programs, as a part of public health policies. Since then, sample collection on paper cards has been explored with various analytical techniques in other areas more or less successfully regarding large-scale applications. Moreover, in the last 5 years a regain of interest for DBS was observed and originated from the bioanalytical community to support drug development (e.g., PK studies) or therapeutic drug monitoring mainly. Those recent applications were essentially driven by improved sensitivity of triple quadrupole mass spectrometers. This review presents an overall view of all instrumental and methodological developments for DBS analysis with mass spectrometric detection, with and without separation techniques. A general introduction to DBS will describe their advantages and historical aspects of their emergence. A second section will focus on blood collection, with a strong emphasis on specific parameters that can impact quantitative analysis, including chromatographic effects, hematocrit effects, blood effects, and analyte stability. A third part of the review is dedicated to sample preparation and will consider off-line and on-line extractions; in particular, instrumental designs that have been developed so far for DBS extraction will be detailed. Flow injection analysis and applications will be discussed in section IV. The application of surface analysis mass spectrometry (DESI, paper spray, DART, APTDCI, MALDI, LDTD-APCI, and ICP) to DBS is described in section V, while applications based on separation techniques (e.g., liquid or gas chromatography) are presented in section VI. To conclude this review, the current status of DBS analysis is summarized, and future perspectives are provided.


FIA; LC-MS; biomarkers; direct MS; dried blood spot; pharmaceuticals; quantification

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