Development of an isotope labeling ultra-high performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometric method for quantification of acylglycines in human urine

Anal Chim Acta. 2012 Oct 31:750:161-72. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2012.05.006. Epub 2012 May 15.


Acylglycines play a crucial regulatory and detoxification role in the accumulation of the corresponding acyl CoA esters and are an important class of metabolites in the diagnoses of inborn errors of metabolism. Sensitive quantification of a large number of acylglycines not only improves diagnosis but also enables the discovery of potential new biomarkers of diseases. We report an ultra-high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS) method for quantifying acylglycines in human urine with high sensitivity. This method is based on the use of a newly developed isotope labeling reagent, p-dimethylaminophenacyl (DmPA) bromide, to label acylglycines to improve detection sensitivity. Eighteen acylglycines, namely acetylglycine, propionylglycine, isobutyrylglycine, butyrylglycine, 4-hydroxyphenylacetylglycine, 2-furoylglycine, tiglylglycine, 2-methybutyrylglycine, 3-methylcrotonylglycine, isovalerylglycine, valerylglycine, hexanoylglycine, phenylacetylglycine, phenylpropionylglycine, glutarylglycine, heptanoylglycine, octanoylglycine and suberylglycine, were measured. This method uses calibration standards prepared in surrogate matrix (un-derivatized urine) and stable-isotope labeled analytes as the internal standards. The analysis was carried out in the positive ion detection mode using multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) survey scans. The calibration curves were validated over the range of 1.0-500 nM. The method achieved a lower limit of quantitation (LLOQ) of 1-5 nM for all analytes, as measured by the standard derivations associated with calibration curves and confirmed in surrogate matrix; the signal-to-noise ratio at LLOQ ranged from 12.50 to 156.70. Both accuracy (% RE or relative error) and precision (% CV) were <15%. Matrix effects were minimized using the surrogate matrix. All eighteen analytes were stable in urine for at least 5h at room temperature, autosampler (4 °C) for 24 h, 7 weeks at -20 °C and after three freeze/thaw cycles. This surrogate matrix approach was validated using a standard addition experiment. As an example of applications, the endogenous concentrations of all eighteen analytes in urine samples of 20 healthy individuals collected in three consecutive days (i.e., 60 samples) were determined; there was no significant correlation found between the acylglycine profile and gender or body mass indices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid*
  • Female
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives
  • Glycine / urine*
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Male
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry*
  • Temperature


  • Glycine