Analytical strategies for LC-MS-based targeted metabolomics

Wenyun Lu, Bryson D. Bennett, Joshua D. Rabinowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

395 Scopus citations


Recent advances in mass spectrometry are enabling improved analysis of endogenous metabolites. Here we discuss several issues relevant to developing liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry methods for targeted metabolomics (i.e., quantitative analysis of dozens to hundreds of specific metabolites). Sample preparation and liquid chromatography approaches are discussed, with an eye towards the challenge of dealing with a diversity of metabolite classes in parallel. Evidence is presented that heated electrospray ionization (ESI) generally gives improved signal compared to the more traditional unheated ESI. Applicability to targeted metabolomics of triple quadrupole mass spectrometry operating in multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode and high mass resolution full scan mass spectrometry (e.g., time-of-flight, Orbitrap) are described. We suggest that both are viable solutions, with MRM preferred when targeting a more limited number of analytes, and full scan preferred for its potential ability to bridge targeted and untargeted metabolomics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-242
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


  • Full scan
  • Heated electrospray ionization
  • Hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC)
  • Ion-pairing chromatography
  • Liquid chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Multiple reaction monitoring (MRM)
  • Targeted metabolomics
  • Time-of-flight
  • Triple quadrupole


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