Evaluation of a nanoflow interface based on the triple-tube coaxial sheath-flow sprayer for capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry coupling in metabolomics

J Chromatogr A. 2021 Mar 29;1641:461982. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2021.461982. Epub 2021 Feb 9.


The performance of an original CE-MS interface that allows the in-axis positioning of the electrospray with respect to the MS inlet was evaluated. The variations in the geometrical alignment of this configuration in the absence of a nebulizing gas afforded a significant reduction in the sheath-liquid flow rate from 3 µL/min to as low as 300 nL/min. The sheath liquid and BGE were respectively composed of H2O-iPrOHCH3COOH 50:50:1 (v/v/v) and 10% acetic acid (pH 2.2). A significant gain in sensitivity was obtained, and it was correlated to the effective mobility of the analytes. Compounds with low mobility values showed a greater sensitivity gain. Special attention was paid to the detection of proteinogenic amino acids. Linear response functions were obtained from 15 ng/mL to 500 ng/mL. The limits of quantification, as low as 34.3 ng/mL, were improved by a factor of up to six compared to the conventional configuration. The in-axis setup was ultimately applied to the absolute quantification of four important amino acids, alanine, tyrosine, methionine and valine, in standard reference material (NIST plasma). The accuracies ranged from 78 to 113%, thus demonstrating the potential of this configuration for metabolomics.

Keywords: Amino acids; CE-ESI-MS; Capillary electrophoresis; Mass spectrometry; Nanoflow interface.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / instrumentation*
  • Metabolomics / instrumentation*
  • Nanotechnology / instrumentation*
  • Reference Standards
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted


  • Amino Acids