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Concept: Analytical chemistry


BACKGROUND: Despite considerable global investigation over several decades, the roles of vitamin D in health and disease development remains convoluted. One recognised issue is the difficulty of accurately measuring the active forms of vitamin D. Advances made include some new methods addressing the potential interference by excluding epimers and isobars. However, there is no evidence that epimers are without function. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop and validate, for the first time, a new assay to simultaneously measure levels of 6 forms of vitamin D along with two epimers. The assay was applied to multilevel certified reference material calibrators and 25 pooled human sera samples obtained from the Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) to demonstrate its efficiency. RESULTS: The assay is capable of simultaneously measuring 8 vitamin D analogues over the calibration ranges and LODs (in nmol/L) of: 1alpha25(OH)2D2 [0.015-1; 0.01], 1alpha25(OH)2D3 [0.1-100; 0.01], 25OHD3 [0.5-100, 0.025], 3-epi-25OHD3 [0.1-100, 0.05], 25OHD2 [0.5-100, 0.025], 3-epi-25OHD2 [0.1-100, 0.05], vitamin D3 [0.5-100, 0.05] and vitamin D2 [0.5-100, 0.05], using stanozolol-d3 as internal standard. Certified reference material calibrators and external quality control samples (DEQAS) were analysed to meet the standards outlined by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Validation steps included recovery and both precision and accuracy under inter- and intra-day variation limit of detection, and analysis of each analyte over a linear range. All validation parameters were in line with acceptable Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and the standards of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). All eight analogues were quantified with the 25OHD levels being commensurate with DEQAS data. CONCLUSIONS: This report details the application of a new LC-MS/MS based assay for the efficient analysis of eight analogues of vitamin D over a range of samples, which is a significant advance over the existing methods. Simultaneous measure of 8 vitamin D analogues does not compromise the analytical capability of the assay to quantify the commonly used biomarker (25OHD) for vitamin D status. The results demonstrate the feasibility of applying the assay in research and clinical practice that i) excludes misleading measures owing to epimers and isobars and ii) is able to quantify the excluded component to facilitate further in vivo investigation into the roles of ubiquitous epimers.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Mass spectrometry, Measurement, Validation, Analytical chemistry, Standard, Calibration, Certified reference materials


This paper describes the design of a new instrumental technique, Gas Chromatography Recomposition-Olfactometry (GC-R), that adapts the reconstitution technique used in flavor chemistry studies by extracting volatiles from a sample by headspace solid-phase microextraction (SPME), separating the extract on a capillary GC column, and recombining individual compounds selectively as they elute off of the column into a mixture for sensory analysis (Figure 1). Using the chromatogram of a mixture as a map, the GC-R instrument allows the operator to “cut apart” and recombine the components of the mixture at will, selecting compounds, peaks, or sections based on retention time to include or exclude in a reconstitution for sensory analysis. Selective recombination is accomplished with the installation of a Deans Switch directly in-line with the column, which directs compounds either to waste or to a cryotrap at the operator’s discretion. This enables the creation of, for example, aroma reconstitutions incorporating all of the volatiles in a sample, including instrumentally undetectable compounds as well those present at concentrations below sensory thresholds, thus correcting for the “reconstitution discrepancy” sometimes noted in flavor chemistry studies. Using only flowering lavender (Lavandula angustifola ‘Hidcote Blue’) as a source for volatiles, we used the instrument to build mixtures of subsets of lavender volatiles in-instrument and characterized their aroma qualities with a sensory panel. We showed evidence of additive, masking, and synergistic effects in these mixtures and of “lavender' aroma character as an emergent property of specific mixtures. This was accomplished without the need for chemical standards, reductive aroma models, or calculation of Odor Activity Values, and is broadly applicable to any aroma or flavor.

Concepts: Mixture, Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Gas chromatography, Chemical compound, Solid phase microextraction, Separation process


BACKGROUND: The tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus is the species with the largest worldwide distribution and is proven to be involved in the transmission of pathogens such as Babesia canis, Ehrlichia canis, Coxiella burnetii, Rickettsia ricketsii, Rickettsia conorii, among others. Studies have demonstrated acquisition of resistance to some of the active principles used in commercial formulations of acaricides. Tagetes patula (Asteraceae) is a plant with highlighted economic and commercial importance due to the production of secondary metabolites with insecticide and acaricide potential, mainly flavonoids, thiophenes and terpenes. METHODS: The in vitro acaricide action of the ethanolic 70% extract from aerial parts of T. patula, obtained by percolation, was evaluated against larvae and engorged adult females of Rhipicephalus sanguineus by immersion test for 5 minutes. The chemical characterization of this extract was done by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC-MS), using direct injection of sample. RESULTS: Despite T. patula not proving lethal to adults in any of the concentrations tested, at 50.0 mg/mL oviposition rate decreased by 21.5% and eliminated 99.78% of the larvae. Also it was determined that the best results were obtained with 5 minutes of immersion. From the chromatographic analysis twelve O-glycosylated flavonoids were identified. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first report on the acaricidal activity of T. patula extract against Rh. sanguineus. If we consider the application of the product in the environment, we could completely eliminate the larval stage of development of the ixodid Rh. sanguineus.

Concepts: Larva, Coxiella burnetii, Q fever, Chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Asteraceae, Tagetes patula


In this study, for the first time, both neuropeptides isotocin (IT) and arginine vasotocin (AVT) have been identified and measured in urophysis, the neurohaemal organ of the caudal neurosecretory system of teleost fish. So far, AVT, but not IT, was quantified by radioimmunoassay (RIA) in urophysis of several fish species. We have used high-performance liquid chromatographic assay with fluorescence detection (HPLC-FL) preceded by solid-phase extraction (SPE) and liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization triple-quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI MS/MS) technique to determine both neuropeptides in urophysis of three fish species. The efficiency of peptide’s SPE extraction was 79-85 %. In HPLC-FL method, the limits of detection (LOD) and quantification (LOQ) were estimated as 1.0 and 3.4 pmol/mL for IT and 0.25 and 2.20 pmol/mL for AVT. In LC-MS/MS method, LOD and LOQ were estimated as 0.4 and 1.2 pmol/mL for IT and 0.06 and 0.2 pmol/mL for AVT. The chromatographic methods are good alternative for RIA, because enable to measure both nonapeptides simultaneously in one sample. In round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and sea bream (Sparus aurata), urophysial IT concentrations ranged between 0.056 and 0.678 pmol/mg tissue and AVT concentrations ranged between 0.0008 (or even below detection threshold) and 0.084 pmol/mg tissue.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Measurement, Analytical chemistry, Actinopterygii, Tandem mass spectrometry, Three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteiformes, Gilt-head bream


BACKGROUND: MultiAlign is a free software tool that aligns multiple liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry datasets to one another by clustering mass and chromatographic elution features across datasets. Applicable to both label-free proteomics and metabolomics comparative analyses, the software can be operated in several modes. For example, clustered features can be matched to a reference database to identify analytes, used to generate abundance profiles, linked to tandem mass spectra based on parent precursor masses, and culled for targeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric analysis. MultiAlign is also capable of tandem mass spectral clustering to describe proteome structure and find similarity in subsequent sample runs. RESULTS: MultiAlign was applied to two large proteomics datasets obtained from liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses of environmental samples. Peptides in the datasets for a microbial community that had a known metagenome were identified by matching mass and elution time features to those in an established reference peptide database. Results compared favorably with those obtained using existing tools such as VIPER, but with the added benefit of being able to trace clusters of peptides across conditions to existing tandem mass spectra. MultiAlign was further applied to detect clusters across experimental samples derived from a reactor biomass community for which no metagenome was available. Several clusters were culled for further analysis to explore changes in the community structure. Lastly, MultiAlign was applied to liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based datasets obtained from a previously published study of wild type and mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation enzyme knockdown mutants of human hepatocarcinoma to demonstrate its utility for analyzing metabolomics datasets. CONCLUSION: MultiAlign is an efficient software package for finding similar analytes across multiple liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry feature maps, as demonstrated here for both proteomics and metabolomics experiments. The software is particularly useful for proteomic studies where little or no genomic context is known, such as with environmental proteomics.

Concepts: Protein, Mass spectrometry, Genomics, Fatty acid metabolism, Chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Proteomics, Functional genomics


BACKGROUND: A specific and sensitive UPLC-qTOF-MS/MS method has been developed for the simultaneous determination of curcuminoids. These Curcuminoids comprises of curcumin, a principal curcuminoid and other two namely, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin obtained from rhizomes of Curcuma longa an ancient Indian curry spice turmeric, family (Zingiberaceae), METHODS: These analytes were separated on a reverse phase C18 column by using a mobile phase of acetonitrile: 5% acetonitrile in water with 0.07% acetic acid (75:25 v/v), flow rate of 100 muL/min was maintained. The qTOF-MS was operated under multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode using electro-spray ionization (ESI) technique with positive ion polarity. The major product ions in the positive mode for curcuminoids were at m/z 369.1066, 339.1023 and 309.0214 respectively. The recovery of the analytes from mouse plasma was optimized using solid phase extraction technique. RESULTS: The total run time was 5 min and the peaks of the compounds, bisdemethoxycurcumin, demethoxycurcumin and curcumin occurred at 2.06, 2.23 and 2.40 min respectively. The calibration curves of bisdemethoxycurcumin, demethoxycurcumin and curcumin were linear over the concentration range of 2–1000 ng/mL (r2, 0.9951), 2–1000 ng/mL (r2, 0.9970) and 2-1000 ng/mL (r2, 0.9906) respectively.Intra-assay and inter-assay accuracy in terms of% bias for curcumin was in between -7.95to +6.21, and -7.03 to + 6.34; for demethoxycurcumin was -6.72 to +6.34, and -7.86 to +6.74 and for bisdesmetoxycurcumin was -8.23 to +6.37 and -8.47 to +7.81. The lower limit of quantitation for curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin was 2.0 ng/mL. Analytes were stable under various conditions (in autosampler, during freeze-thaw, at room temperature, and under deep-freeze conditions). This validated method was used during pharmacokinetic studies of curcumin in the mouse plasma. CONCLUSIONS: A specific, accurate and precise UPLC-qTOF-MS/MS method for the determination of curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin both individually and simultaneously was optimized.

Concepts: Analytical chemistry, Ion, Mouse, Curcuma, Turmeric, Curcumin, Zingiberaceae, Curry


The most common technique used to detect ochratoxin A (OTA) in food matrices is based on extraction, clean-up, and chromatography detection. Different clean-up cartridges, such as immunoaffinity columns (IAC), molecular imprinting polymers (MIP), Mycosep™ 229, Mycospin™, and Oasis® HLB (Hydrophilic Lipophilic balance) as solid phase extraction were tested to optimize the purification for red wine, beer, roasted coffee and chili. Recovery, reproducibility, reproducibility, limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantification (LOQ) were calculated for each clean-up method. IAC demonstrated to be suitable for OTA analysis in wine and beer with recovery rate >90%, as well as Mycosep™ for wine and chili. On the contrary, MIP columns were the most appropriate to clean up coffee. A total of 120 samples (30 wines, 30 beers, 30 roasted coffee, 30 chili) marketed in Italy were analyzed, by applying the developed clean-up methods. Twenty-seven out of 120 samples analyzed (22.7%: two wines, five beers, eight coffees, and 12 chili) resulted positive to OTA. A higher incidence of OTA was found in chili (40.0%) more than wine (6.6%), beers (16.6%) and coffee (26.6%). Moreover, OTA concentration in chili was the highest detected, reaching 47.8 µg/kg. Furthermore, three samples (2.5%), two wines and one chili, exceeded the European threshold.

Concepts: Measurement, Analytical chemistry, Detection limit, Harshad number, Wine, Oenology, Alcoholic beverage, Polyphenol


Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) typically requires painful blood drawn from patients. We propose a painless and minimally-invasive alternative for TDM using hollow microneedles suitable to extract extremely small volumes (<1 nL) of interstitial fluid to measure drug concentrations. The inner lumen of a microneedle is functionalized to be used as a micro-reactor during sample collection to trap and bind target drug candidates during extraction, without requirements of sample transfer. An optofluidic device is integrated with this microneedle to rapidly quantify drug analytes with high sensitivity using a straightforward absorbance scheme. Vancomycin is currently detected by using volumes ranging between 50-100 μL with a limit of detection (LoD) of 1.35 μM. The proposed microneedle-optofluidic biosensor can detect vancomycin with a sample volume of 0.6 nL and a LoD of <100 nM, validating this painless point of care system with significant potential to reduce healthcare costs and patients suffering.

Concepts: Volume, Measurement, Illness, Integral, Pain, Analytical chemistry, Proposal, Lymph


Urine has long been a “favored” biofluid among metabolomics researchers. It is sterile, easy-to-obtain in large volumes, largely free from interfering proteins or lipids and chemically complex. However, this chemical complexity has also made urine a particularly difficult substrate to fully understand. As a biological waste material, urine typically contains metabolic breakdown products from a wide range of foods, drinks, drugs, environmental contaminants, endogenous waste metabolites and bacterial by-products. Many of these compounds are poorly characterized and poorly understood. In an effort to improve our understanding of this biofluid we have undertaken a comprehensive, quantitative, metabolome-wide characterization of human urine. This involved both computer-aided literature mining and comprehensive, quantitative experimental assessment/validation. The experimental portion employed NMR spectroscopy, gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), direct flow injection mass spectrometry (DFI/LC-MS/MS), inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) experiments performed on multiple human urine samples. This multi-platform metabolomic analysis allowed us to identify 445 and quantify 378 unique urine metabolites or metabolite species. The different analytical platforms were able to identify (quantify) a total of: 209 (209) by NMR, 179 (85) by GC-MS, 127 (127) by DFI/LC-MS/MS, 40 (40) by ICP-MS and 10 (10) by HPLC. Our use of multiple metabolomics platforms and technologies allowed us to identify several previously unknown urine metabolites and to substantially enhance the level of metabolome coverage. It also allowed us to critically assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of different platforms or technologies. The literature review led to the identification and annotation of another 2206 urinary compounds and was used to help guide the subsequent experimental studies. An online database containing the complete set of 2651 confirmed human urine metabolite species, their structures (3079 in total), concentrations, related literature references and links to their known disease associations are freely available at

Concepts: Metabolism, Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Metabolite, Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, Metabolomics, Metabolome


Antibiotic resistance is increasingly widespread, largely due to human influence. Here, we explore the relationship between antibiotic resistance genes and the antimicrobial chemicals triclosan, triclocarban, and methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butylparaben in the dust microbiome. Dust samples from a mixed-use athletic and educational facility were subjected to microbial and chemical analyses using a combination of 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, shotgun metagenome sequencing, and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. The dust resistome was characterized by identifying antibiotic resistance genes annotated in the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database (CARD) from the metagenomes of each sample using the Short, Better Representative Extract Data set (ShortBRED). The three most highly abundant antibiotic resistance genes were tet(W), blaSRT-1, and erm(B). The complete dust resistome was then compared against the measured concentrations of antimicrobial chemicals, which for triclosan ranged from 0.5 to 1970 ng/g dust. We observed six significant positive associations between the concentration of an antimicrobial chemical and the relative abundance of an antibiotic resistance gene, including one between the ubiquitous antimicrobial triclosan and erm(X), a 23S rRNA methyltransferase implicated in resistance to several antibiotics. This study is the first to look for an association between antibiotic resistance genes and antimicrobial chemicals in dust.

Concepts: Bacteria, Mass spectrometry, Ribosomal RNA, Antibiotic resistance, 16S ribosomal RNA, Analytical chemistry, Microorganism, Abundance of the chemical elements