Isotope-coded ESI-enhancing derivatization reagents for differential analysis, quantification and profiling of metabolites in biological samples by LC/MS: A review

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The analysis of the qualitative and quantitative changes of metabolites in body fluids and tissues yields valuable information for the diagnosis, pathological analysis and treatment of many diseases. Recently, liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-(tandem) mass spectrometry [LC/ESI-MS(/MS)] has been widely used for these purposes due to the high separation capability of LC, broad coverage of ESI for various compounds and high specificity of MS(/MS). However, there are still two major problems to be solved regarding the biological sample analysis; lack of sensitivity and limited availability of stable isotope-labeled analogues (internal standards, ISs) for most metabolites. Stable isotope-coded derivatization (ICD) can be the answer for these problems. By the ICD, different isotope-coded moieties are introduced to the metabolites and one of the resulting derivatives can serve as the IS, which minimize the matrix effects. Furthermore, the derivatization can improve the ESI efficiency, fragmentation property in the MS/MS and chromatographic behavior of the metabolites, which lead to a high sensitivity and specificity in the various detection modes. Based on this background, this article reviews the recently-reported isotope-coded ESI-enhancing derivatization (ICEED) reagents, which are key components for the ICD-based LC/MS(/MS) studies, and their applications to the detection, identification, quantification and profiling of metabolites in human and animal samples. The LC/MS(/MS) using the ICEED reagents is the powerful method especially for the differential analysis (relative quantification) of metabolites in two comparative samples, simultaneous quantification of multiple metabolites whose stable isotope-labeled ISs are not available, and submetabolome profiling.

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