New Advances for Newborn Screening of Inborn Errors of Metabolism by Capillary Electrophoresis-Mass Spectrometry (CE-MS)

Methods Mol Biol. 2019:1972:139-163. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9213-3_10.


Expanded newborn screening of inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) based on tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) technology is one of the most successful preventative healthcare initiatives for presymptomatic diagnosis and treatment of rare yet treatable genetic diseases in the population. However, confirmatory testing of presumptive screen-positive cases is required using high efficiency separations for improved specificity in order to improve the positive predictive value (PPV) for certain classes of IEMs. Here, we describe recent advances using capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (CE-MS) for reliable second-tier screening or confirmatory testing based on targeted analysis of amino acids, acylcarnitines, nucleosides, and other classes of polar metabolites associated with IEMs. Additionally, nontargeted metabolite profiling enables the identification of unknown biomarkers of clinical significance for other genetic diseases that are currently screened by bioassays and/or mutation panels, such as cystic fibrosis (CF). Noteworthy, CE-MS allows for resolution of isobaric/isomeric interferences without complicated sample handling that is ideal when analyzing volume-restricted biospecimens from neonates/infants, including dried blood spots and sweat specimens. New developments to improve concentration sensitivity, as well as enhance sample throughput and quality control for unambiguous confirmatory testing of IEMs will also be discussed when using multiplexed separations based on multisegment injection-CE-MS.

Keywords: Acylcarnitines; Amino acids; Capillary electrophoresis; Cystic fibrosis; Dried blood spots; Inborn errors of metabolism; Mass spectrometry; Metabolomics; Newborn screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Dried Blood Spot Testing
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / methods*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Metabolomics
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Pilocarpine
  • Quality Control
  • ROC Curve
  • Sweat / chemistry


  • Biomarkers
  • Pilocarpine