Advances in liquid chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry for quantitative and qualitative environmental analysis.
Liquid chromatography in combination with mass spectrometry (LC/MS) is a superior analytical technique for metabolite profiling and identification studies performed in drug discovery and development laboratories. In the early phase of drug discovery the analytical approach should be both time- and cost-effective, thus providing as much data as possible with only one visit to the laboratory, without the need for further experiments. Recent developments in mass spectrometers have created a situation where many different mass spectrometers are available for the task, each with their specific strengths and drawbacks. We compared the metabolite screening properties of four main types of mass spectrometers used in analytical laboratories, considering both the ability to detect the metabolites and provide structural information, as well as the issues related to time consumption in laboratory and thereafter in data processing. Human liver microsomal incubations with amitriptyline and verapamil were used as test samples, and early-phase 'one lab visit only' approaches were used with all instruments. In total, 28 amitriptyline and 69 verapamil metabolites were found and tentatively identified. Time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOFMS) was the only approach detecting all of them, shown to be the most suitable instrument for elucidating as comprehensive metabolite profile as possible leading also to lowest overall time consumption together with the LTQ-Orbitrap approach. The latter however suffered from lower detection sensitivity and false negatives, and due to slow data acquisition rate required slower chromatography. Approaches with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (QqQ) and hybrid linear ion trap triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (Q-Trap) provided the highest amount of fragment ion data for structural elucidation, but, in addition to being unable to produce very high-important accurate mass data, they suffered from many false negatives, and especially with the QqQ, from very high overall time consumption.