Solid-phase extraction-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry for the quantification of folate in human plasma or serum

Anal Biochem. 2004 Feb 1;325(1):41-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2003.10.009.


The measurement of 5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid (5 MT) blood levels is one of several factors used to diagnose folate deficiency in humans. 5 can be selectively purified from either human plasma or human serum via solid-phase extraction procedures and specifically detected and quantified in the extracts with liquid chromatography/isotope-dilution electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry. Two different, yet complementary, solid-phase extraction-liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry methods have been developed and applied to the quantification of 5 MT from such extracts. One method utilizes the high-affinity folate-binding protein from cow's milk coupled with multiple-reaction-monitoring-mode tandem mass spectrometry while the other method utilizes reversed-phase C(18) extraction followed by selected-ion-monitoring-mode mass spectrometry. The accuracy of each method is assessed through a comparative determination of 5 MT levels in homogenous plasma and serum pools. Additionally, each method is compared and evaluated against the "total folate" results provided by routine radioassay and microbiological assay determinations. On the basis of the experimental data presented in this report, it is suggested that both methods have the capacity to serve as potential reference methods for the quantification of circulating 5MT in plasma or serum.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Folic Acid / blood*
  • Humans
  • Plasma / chemistry
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serum / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization* / methods
  • Tetrahydrofolates / blood*


  • Tetrahydrofolates
  • Folic Acid
  • 5-methyltetrahydrofolate