Rapid communications in mass spectrometry : RCM

Evaluation of automated single mass spectrometry to tandem mass spectrometry function switching for comprehensive drug profiling analysis using a quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer.

PMID 11006586


A liquid chromatographic mass spectrometric strategy for systematic toxicological analysis (STA) is presented using the automatic 'on-the-fly' single mass spectrometry mode to tandem mass spectrometry mode (MS to MS/MS) switching abilities of a quadrupole time-of-flight (Q-TOF) instrument. During the chromatographic run, the quadrupole is initially set to transmit all masses until (an) ion(s) reaches a certain set threshold. Thereupon, the quadrupole automatically switches to the MS/MS mode, selecting the ion(s), which are subsequently fragmented in the high-efficiency hexapole collision cell, thus generating product ions that are further mass analyzed by the TOF. By limiting the TOF spectral accumulation time in the MS/MS mode to a statistically acceptable minimum, the quadrupole almost instantly switches back to the MS mode. Qualitative information, comprising the complementary MS ([M + H](+) ion mass) and MS/MS (informative product ion profile) data, as well as quantitative information obtained by integration of the MS extracted ion chromatogram(s), can be obtained in one single acquisition. Optimization of the automatic switching parameters, such as threshold, TOF spectral accumulation time, detection window and collision energy, was carried out by injection of a mix of 17 common drugs which were not necessarily baseline separated in the chromatographic system used. Indeed, the complete separation of the drugs is not deemed necessary since up to 8 different ions can 'simultaneously' be selected for MS/MS if they reach the preset criteria. In addition, the quantitative performance of the method was defined. In a second phase, the developed method was field-tested. To that end, the resulting data from extracts of urine samples were compared with and found to be in close concordance with those obtained by a standard toxicological analysis. This innovative approach clearly holds the potential for a substantial advance in the introduction of LC/MS in STA.

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