Optimization of a Direct Analysis in Real Time,Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry Method for Rapid Serum Metabolomic Fingerprinting

Authors: Manshui Zhou, John F. McDonald, Facundo Fernndez
Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2010, Jan, 01, 21(1), 68-75


Metabolomic fingerprinting of bodily fluids can reveal the underlying causes of metabolic disorders associated with many diseases, and has thus been recognized as a potential tool for disease diagnosis and prognosis following therapy. Here we report a rapid approach in which direct analysis in real time (DART®) coupled with time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) and hybrid quadrupole TOF (Q-TOF) MS is used as a means for metabolomic fingerprinting of human serum. In this approach, serum samples are first treated to precipitate proteins, and the volatility of the remaining metabolites increased by derivatization, followed by DART® MS analysis. Maximum DART® MS performance was obtained by optimizing instrumental parameters such as ionizing gas temperature and flow rate for the analysis of identical aliquots of a healthy human serum samples. These variables were observed to have a significant effect on the overall mass range of the metabolites detected as well as the signal-to-noise ratios in DART® mass spectra. Each DART® run requires only 1.2 min, during which more than 1500 different spectral features are observed in a time-dependent fashion. A repeatability of 4.1% to 4.5% was obtained for the total ion signal using a manual sampling arm. With the appealing features of high-throughput, lack of memory effects, and simplicity, DART® MS has shown potential to become an invaluable tool for metabolomic fingerprinting.
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