Accurate mass filtering of ion chromatograms for metabolite identification using a unit mass resolution liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry system



Acceleration of liquid chromatography/mass spectrometric (LC/MS) analysis for metabolite identification critically relies on effective data processing since the rate of data acquisition is much faster than the rate of data mining. The rapid and accurate identification of metabolite peaks from complex LC/MS data is a key component to speeding up the process. Current approaches routinely use selected ion chromatograms that can suffer severely from matrix effects. This paper describes a new method to automatically extract and filter metabolite-related information from LC/MS data obtained at unit mass resolution in the presence of complex biological matrices. This approach is illustrated by LC/MS analysis of the metabolites of verapamil from a rat microsome incubation spiked with biological matrix (bile). MS data were acquired in profile mode on a unit mass resolution triple-quadrupole instrument, externally calibrated using a unique procedure that corrects for both mass axis and mass spectral peak shape to facilitate metabolite identification with high mass accuracy. Through the double-filtering effects of accurate mass and isotope profile, conventional extracted ion chromatograms corresponding to the parent drug (verapamil at m/z 455), demethylated verapamil (m/z 441), and dealkylated verapamil (m/z 291), that contained substantial false-positive peaks, were simplified into chromatograms that are substantially free from matrix interferences. These filtered chromatograms approach what would have been obtained by using a radioactivity detector to detect radio-labeled metabolites of interest. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.