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Analytical Chemistry

Mass Spec Variability Hinders Biomarker Analysis

Ions used to identify biomarkers in metabolite profiling can vary from one instrument to the next

by Celia Henry Arnaud
September 20, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 38

Ions used to identify biomarkers in mass spectrometric metabolite profiling can vary from one instrument to the next, researchers report (Anal. Chem., DOI: 10.1021/ac1016612). This observation could have consequences for biomarker discovery and the reproducibility of experiments conducted in different laboratories or even in the same laboratory. Georgios A. Theodoridis of Aristotle University Thessaloniki, in Greece, and coworkers split the eluent from single ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography separations of urine samples from rats treated with an antituberculosis agent into two equal streams. The streams were then simultaneously analyzed by two different mass spectrometers, a triple-quadrupole linear ion trap instrument from AB/Sciex and a quadrupole time-of-flight instrument from Waters. The mass spec data were first analyzed with the manufacturers’ data analysis software and then with third-party software. In all cases, multivariate statistical methods were able to separate the samples into high- and low-dose groups. Several ions, including those identified as significant for separating the samples, were found to be unique to one instrument or the other, even with the single preparation and separation. The findings “highlight the difficulties facing approaches toward standardization in metabolomics/metabonomics studies employing LC-MS-based strategies,” Theodoridis and coworkers write.


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