Development of a method for rapid quantitation of amino acids by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MSMS) in plasma

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2000 May;38(5):391-401. doi: 10.1515/CCLM.2000.057.


A new analytical method has been developed and is proposed for the rapid determination of eighteen common amino acids, including tryptophan, in plasma and dried blood spots, by liquid chromatography coupled with ionspray tandem mass spectrometry. Potentially the method can include other amino acids and can be used for the diagnosis of metabolic disease. The use of the ionspray tandem mass spectrometry approach permits extremely rapid chromatographic separation of all amino acids requiring less than four minutes for the analysis of each sample, after a simple sample preparation procedure. The chromatographic separation of the analytes was achieved using a CN normal phase column and a water/acetonitrile/trifluoroacetic acid mobile phase at flow rate of 1 ml/min. The mass spectrometer was operated in multiple reaction monitoring mode, where each analyte had its own unique precursor and product ion setting. The quantitative analysis of amino acids was achieved using as internal standards just two representative isotopically labeled amino acids: D4-Ala and D5-Phe. Calibration is made externally by using aqueous solutions with the same labelled amino acids as internal standards. The high specificity of tandem mass spectrometry coupled with a fast chromatographic process is suitable for the rapid and reliable assay of metabolically significant amino acids. The liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method is more effective than other published tandem mass spectrometry methods at distinguishing isobaric amino acids like Leu, Ile and HO-Pro and certainly far more rapid than HPLC or ion-exchange chromatographic methods.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood*
  • Calibration
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Amino Acids