The application of Gas Chromatography (GC)-Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization (APCI)-Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (TOF-MS) is presented for sterol analysis in human plasma. A commercial APCI interface was modified to ensure a well-defined humidity which is essential for controlled ionization. In the first step, optimization regarding flow rates of auxiliary gases was performed by using a mixture of model analytes. Secondly, the qualitative and quantitative analysis of sterols including oxysterols, cholesterol precursors, and plant sterols as trimethylsilyl-derivatives was successfully carried out. The characteristics of APCI together with the very good mass accuracy of TOF-MS data enable the reliable identification of relevant sterols in complex matrices. Linear calibration lines and plausible results for healthy volunteers and patients could be obtained whereas all mass signals were extracted with an extraction width of 20 ppm from the full mass data set. One advantage of high mass accuracy can be seen in the fact that from one recorded run any search for m/z can be performed.
Keywords: APCI; Oxysterols; Time-of-flight mass spectrometry.
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