The effect of sample injection amount on metabolome analysis in a chemical isotope labeling (CIL) liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) platform was investigated. The performance of time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometers with and without a high-dynamic-range (HD) detection system was compared in the analysis of (12)C2/(13)C2-dansyl labeled human urine samples. An average of 1635 ± 21 (n = 3) peak pairs or putative metabolites was detected using the HD-TOF-MS, compared to 1429 ± 37 peak pairs from a conventional or non-HD TOF-MS. In both instruments, signal saturation was observed. However, in the HD-TOF-MS, signal saturation was mainly caused by the ionization process, while in the non-HD TOF-MS, it was caused by the detection process. To extend the MS detection range in the non-HD TOF-MS, an automated switching from using (12)C to (13)C-natural abundance peaks for peak ratio calculation when the (12)C peaks are saturated has been implemented in IsoMS, a software tool for processing CIL LC-MS data. This work illustrates that injecting an optimal sample amount is important to maximize the metabolome coverage while avoiding the sample carryover problem often associated with over-injection. A TOF mass spectrometer with an enhanced detection dynamic range can also significantly increase the number of peak pairs detected.
Biological significance: In chemical isotope labeling (CIL) LC-MS, relative metabolite quantification is done by measuring the peak ratio of a (13)C2-/(12)C2-labeled peak pair for a given metabolite present in two comparative samples. The dynamic range of peak ratio measurement does not need to be very large, as only subtle changes of metabolite concentrations are encountered in most metabolomic studies where relative metabolome quantification of different groups of samples is performed. However, the absolute concentrations of different metabolites can be very different, requiring a technique to provide a wide detection dynamic range to allow the detection of as many peak pairs as possible. In this work, we demonstrated that controlling the sample injection amount into LC-MS was critical to achieve the optimal detectability while avoiding sample carry-over problem. In addition, the use of a high-dynamic-range TOF system increased the number of peak pairs detected, compared to a conventional TOF system. We also investigated the ionization and detection saturation factors limiting the dynamic range of detection. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein dynamics in health and disease. Guest Editors: Pierre Thibault and Anne-Claude Gingras.
Keywords: Dynamic range of detection; Isotope labeling; LC–MS; Metabolite; Metabolomics; TOF-MS.
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