Assessment of human plasma and urine sample preparation for reproducible and high-throughput UHPLC-MS clinical metabolic phenotyping

Andrew D. Southam, Liam D. Haglington, Lukáš Najdekr, Andris Jankevics, Ralf J. M. Weber, Warwick B. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Clinical metabolic phenotyping employs metabolomics and lipidomics to detect and measure hundreds to thousands of metabolites and lipids within human samples. This approach aims to identify metabolite and lipid changes between phenotypes (e.g. disease status) that aid understanding of biochemical mechanisms driving the phenotype. Sample preparation is a critical step in clinical metabolic phenotyping: it must be reproducible and give a high extraction yield of metabolites and lipids, and in high-throughput studies it needs to be rapid. Here, we assessed the extraction of polar metabolites from human urine and polar metabolites and lipids from human plasma for analysis by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS) metabolomics and lipidomics. We evaluated several monophasic (urine and plasma) and biphasic (plasma) extractions, and we also tested alterations to (a) solvent–biofluid incubation time and temperature during monophasic extraction, and (b) phase partitioning time during biphasic extraction. Extracts were analysed by three UHPLC-MS assays: (i) hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC) for urine and plasma, (ii) C18 aqueous reversed phase for urine, and (iii) C18 reversed phase for plasma lipids, and the yield and reproducibility of each method was assessed. We measured UHPLC-MS injection reproducibility as well as sample preparation reproducibility to assess sample solvent composition compatibility with UHPLC-MS and to pinpoint the origin of variance within the methods. For HILIC UHPLC-MS plasma and urine analysis, monophasic 50 : 50 methanol : acetonitrile had the most detected putatively-identified polar metabolites with high method reproducibility. This method had the highest lipid yield for plasma extracts analysed by the HILIC method. If lipid removal from the plasma polar HILIC extract is required, then the biphasic methanol/chloroform/water method is recommended. For C18 (aqueous) UHPLC-MS urine analysis, 50 : 50 methanol : water had high reproducibility and yield. For C18 UHPLC-MS plasma lipidomics, monophasic 100% isopropanol had the highest detection response of all annotated lipid classes with high reproducibility. Increasing monophasic incubation time and temperature had little benefit on metabolite and lipid yield and reproducibility for all methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6511-6523
JournalThe Analyst
Issue number20
Early online date29 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020


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