Clinical chemistry

Screening of drugs and toxic compounds with liquid chromatography-linear ion trap tandem mass spectrometry.

PMID 16858080


In clinical and forensic toxicology, general unknown screening is used to detect and identify exogenous compounds. In this study, we aimed to develop a comprehensive general unknown screening method based on liquid chromatography coupled with a hybrid triple-quadrupole linear ion trap mass spectrometer. After solid-phase extraction, separation was performed using gradient reversed-phase chromatography. The mass spectrometer was operated in the information-dependent acquisition mode, switching between a survey scan acquired in the Enhanced Mass Spectrometry mode with dynamic subtraction of background noise and a dependent scan obtained in the enhanced product ion scan mode. The complete cycle time was 1.36 s. A library of 1000 enhanced product ion-tandem mass spectrometry spectra in positive mode and 250 in negative mode, generated using 3 alternated collision tensions during each scan, was created by injecting pure solutions of drugs and toxic compounds. Comparison with HPLC-diode array detection and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for the analysis of 36 clinical samples showed that linear ion trap tandem mass spectrometry could identify most of the compounds (94% of the total). Some compounds were detected only by 1 of the other 2 techniques. Specific clinical cases highlighted the advantages and limitations of the method. A unique combination of new operating modes provided by hybrid triple-quadrupole linear ion trap mass spectrometers and new software features allowed development of a comprehensive and efficient method for the general unknown screening of drugs and toxic compounds in blood or urine.

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Ammonium formate, for mass spectrometry, ≥99.0%