Merck

Underivatized oxysterols and nanoLC-ESI-MS: A mismatch.

Steroids (2015-02-11)
Hanne Roberg-Larsen, Caroline Vesterdal, Steven Ray Wilson, Elsa Lundanes
ABSTRACT

Due to their non-charged character, liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS) measurements of oxysterols are often performed after derivatization with e.g. charged Girard reagents. However, derivatization reactions are time-consuming and may require numerous steps to remove excess reagent. In addition, extensive sample handling can be associated with cholesterol autoxidation, resulting in analyte artifacts and hence false positives. Nano scale liquid chromatography in combination with electrospray-mass spectrometry (nanoLC-ESI-MS) is a powerful tool for analyzing limited samples, due to substantially increased sensitivity compared to conventional LC-ESI-MS. The signal enhancement may compensate for the poor ionization of the oxysterols; hence we have explored the possibility to quantify oxysterols without derivatization using nanoLC-ESI-MS. Non-derivatized oxysterols and nanoLC were however not compatible, due to persistent and large carry-over. This was attributed to the extended contribution of surface to volume ratio in such miniaturized systems and interactions with the materials of the nanoLC instrumentation (e.g. adsorption to the fused silica tubing). Two contemporary MS instruments (Q-Exactive™ hybrid quadrupole-Orbitrap and TSQ Quantiva™ triple quadrupole) were used. However, both the MS and MS/MS spectra of non-derivatized oxysterols were ambiguous and/or unrepeatable for both of the instruments employed. Derivatizing oxysterols is more cumbersome, but provides more selective and reliable results, and Girard derivatization+nanoLC-ESI-MS continues to be our recommended choice for measuring oxysterols in very limited samples. These investigations also indicate that extra care should be taken to remove lipids prior to nanoLC of other analytes, as adsorbed oxysterols, etc. can compromise analysis.

MATERIALS
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