Segmented Flow Strategies for Integrating Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance for Lipidomics

Anal Chem. 2023 Jan 11. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.2c03974. Online ahead of print.


Building an accurate lipid inventory relies on coordinated information from orthogonal analytical capabilities. Integrating the familiar workflow of liquid chromatography (LC), high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) with proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR) would be ideal for building that inventory. For absolute lipid structural elucidation, LC-HRMS/MS can provide lower-level structural information with superior sensitivity, while 1H NMR can provide invaluable higher-order structural information for the disambiguation of isomers with absolute chemical specificity. Digitization of the LC eluent followed by splitting the microfractions into two flow paths in a defined ratio for HRMS/MS and NMR would be the ideal strategy to permit correlation of the MS and NMR data as a function of chromatographic retention time. Here, we report an active segmentation platform to transform analytical flow rate LC eluent into parallel microliter segmented flow queues for high confidence correlation of the MS, MS/MS, and NMR data. The practical details in implementing this strategy to achieve an integrated LC-MS-NMR platform are presented, including the development of an active segmentation technology using a four-port two-way valve to transform the LC eluent into parallel segmented flows for online MS analysis followed by offline segment-specific 1H NMR and optimization of the detector response toward segmented flow. To demonstrate the practicality of this novel platform, it was tested using lipid mixture samples.