Integrating ion mobility spectrometry into mass spectrometry-based exposome measurements: what can it add and how far can it go?

Bioanalysis. 2017 Jan;9(1):81-98. doi: 10.4155/bio-2016-0244.


Measuring the exposome remains a challenge due to the range and number of anthropogenic molecules that are encountered in our daily lives, as well as the complex systemic responses to these exposures. One option for improving the coverage, dynamic range and throughput of measurements is to incorporate ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) into current MS-based analytical methods. The implementation of IMS in exposomics studies will lead to more frequent observations of previously undetected chemicals and metabolites. LC-IMS-MS will provide increased overall measurement dynamic range, resulting in detections of lower abundance molecules. Alternatively, the throughput of IMS-MS alone will provide the opportunity to analyze many thousands of longitudinal samples over lifetimes of exposure, capturing evidence of transitory accumulations of chemicals or metabolites. The volume of data corresponding to these new chemical observations will almost certainly outpace the generation of reference data to enable their confident identification. In this perspective, we briefly review the state-of-the-art in measuring the exposome, and discuss the potential use for IMS-MS and the physico-chemical property of collisional cross section in both exposure assessment and molecular identification.

Keywords: collision cross section; exposome; ion mobility spectrometry; mass spectrometry; metabolome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Metabolome
  • Workflow