Targeted analyte detection by standard addition improves detection limits in matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry.

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) has proven an effective tool for fast and accurate determination of many molecules. However, the detector sensitivity and chemical noise compromise the detection of many invaluable low-abundance molecules from biological and clinical samples. To challenge this limitation, we developed a targeted analyte detection (TAD) technique. In TAD, the target analyte is selectively elevated by spiking a known amount of that analyte into the sample, thereby raising its concentration above the noise level, where we take advantage of the improved sensitivity to detect the presence of the endogenous analyte in the sample. We assessed TAD on three peptides in simple and complex background solutions with various exogenous analyte concentrations in two MALDI matrices. TAD successfully improved the limit of detection (LOD) of target analytes when the target peptides were added to the sample in a concentration close to optimum concentration. The optimum exogenous concentration was estimated through a quantitative method to be approximately equal to the original LOD for each target. Also, we showed that TAD could achieve LOD improvements on an average of 3-fold in a simple and 2-fold in a complex sample. TAD provides a straightforward assay to improve the LOD of generic target analytes without the need for costly hardware modifications.

Li X, Toghi Eshghi S, Zhang H


Anal. Chem., 2012, 84 (18)

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