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Volume 22 (2008), Issue 5, Pages 327-343

Metabolomics relative quantitation with mass spectrometry using chemical derivatization and isotope labeling

Grace O'Maille,1 Eden P. Go,1 Linh Hoang,1 Elizabeth J. Want,1 Colin Smith,1 Paul O'Maille,2 Anders NordstrÖm,1 Hirotoshi Morita,1 Chuan Qin,1 Wilasinee Uritboonthai,1 Junefredo Apon,1 Richard Moore,3 James Garrett,3 and Gary Siuzdak1

1The Center for Mass Spectrometry and Department of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA-92037, USA
2Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA-92037, USA
3Becton Dickinson, Sparks, MD-21152, USA

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. 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.


Comprehensive detection and quantitation of metabolites from a biological source constitute the major challenges of current metabolomics research. Two chemical derivatization methodologies, butylation and amination, were applied to human serum for ionization enhancement of a broad spectrum of metabolite classes, including steroids and amino acids. LC-ESI-MS analysis of the derivatized serum samples provided a significant signal elevation across the total ion chromatogram to over a 100-fold increase in ionization efficiency. It was also demonstrated that derivatization combined with isotopically labeled reagents facilitated the relative quantitation of derivatized metabolites from individual as well as pooled samples.