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Journal of Analytical Methods in Chemistry
Volume 2018, Article ID 2046709, 8 pages
Research Article

Synchronized Survey Scan Approach Allows for Efficient Discrimination of Isomeric and Isobaric Compounds during LC-MS/MS Analyses

Department of Biochemistry, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park 2006, South Africa

Correspondence should be addressed to Ntakadzeni Madala;

Received 23 January 2018; Accepted 28 February 2018; Published 1 April 2018

Academic Editor: Josep Esteve-Romero

Copyright © 2018 Keabetswe Masike and Ntakadzeni Madala. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry- (LC-MS-) based multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) methods have been used to detect and quantify metabolites for years. These approaches rely on the monitoring of various fragmentation pathways of multiple precursors and the subsequent corresponding product ions. However, MRM methods are incapable of confidently discriminating between isomeric and isobaric molecules and, as such, the development of methods capable of overcoming this challenge has become imperative. Due to increasing scanning rates of recent MS instruments, it is now possible to operate MS instruments both in the static and dynamic modes. One such method is known as synchronized survey scan (SSS), which is capable of acquiring a product ion scan (PIS) during MRM analysis. The current study shows, for the first time, the use of SSS-based PIS approach as a feasible identification feature of MRM. To achieve the above, five positional isomers of dicaffeoylquinic acids (diCQAs) were studied with the aid of SSS-based PIS method. Here, the MRM transitions were automatically optimized using a 3,5-diCQA isomer by monitoring fragmentation transitions common to all five isomers. Using the mixture of these isomers, fragmentation spectra of the five isomers achieved with SSS-based PIS were used to identify each isomer based on previously published hierarchical fragmentation keys. The optimized method was also used to detect and distinguish between diCQA components found in Bidens pilosa and their isobaric counterparts found in Moringa oleifera plants. Thus, the method was shown to distinguish (by differences in fragmentation patterns) between diCQA and their isobars, caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) glycosides. In conclusion, SSS allowed the detection and discrimination of isomeric and isobaric compounds in a single chromatographic run by producing a PIS spectrum, triggered in the automatic MS/MS synchronized survey scan mode.