Clinical chemistry

Screening blood spots for inborn errors of metabolism by electrospray tandem mass spectrometry with a microplate batch process and a computer algorithm for automated flagging of abnormal profiles.

PMID 9216448


Metabolic profiling of amino acids and acylcarnitines from blood spots by automated electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS) is a powerful diagnostic tool for inborn errors of metabolism. New approaches to sample preparation and data interpretation have helped establish the methodology as a robust, high-throughput neonatal screening method. We introduce an efficient 96-well-microplate batch process for blood-spot sample preparation, with which we can obtain high-quality profiles from 500-1000 samples per day per instrument. A computer-assisted metabolic profiling algorithm automatically flags abnormal profiles. We selected diagnostic parameters for the algorithm by comparing profiles from patients with known metabolic disorders and those from normal newborns. Reference range and cutoff values for the diagnostic parameters were established by measuring either metabolite concentrations or peak ratios of certain metabolite pairs. Rigorous testing of the algorithm demonstrates its outstanding clinical sensitivity in flagging abnormal profiles and its high cumulative specificity.

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