Development and performance of a gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry analysis for large-scale nontargeted metabolomic studies of human serum

Anal Chem. 2009 Aug 15;81(16):7038-46. doi: 10.1021/ac9011599.


A method for the preparation and GC-TOF-MS analysis of human serum samples has been developed and evaluated for application in long-term metabolomic studies. Serum samples were deproteinized using 3:1 methanol/serum, dried in a vacuum concentrator, and chemically derivatized in a two-stage process. Samples were analyzed by GC-TOF-MS with a 25 min analysis time. In addition, quality control (QC) samples were used to quantify process variability. Optimization of chemical derivatization was performed. Products were found to be stable for 30 h after derivatization. An assessment of within-day repeatability and within-week reproducibility demonstrates that excellent performance is observed with our developed method. Analyses were consistent over a 5 month period. Additional method testing, using spiked serum samples, showed the ability to define metabolite differences between samples from a population and samples spiked with metabolites standards. This methodology allows the continuous acquisition and application of data acquired over many months in long-term metabolomic studies, including the HUSERMET project (

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics*
  • Quality Control
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Blood Proteins