Validation of the Mass-Extraction-Window for Quantitative Methods Using Liquid Chromatography High Resolution Mass Spectrometry
A paradigm shift is underway in the field of quantitative liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis thanks to the arrival of recent high-resolution mass spectrometers (HRMS). The capability of HRMS to perform sensitive and reliable quantifications of a large variety of analytes in HR-full scan mode is showing that it is now realistic to perform quantitative and qualitative analysis with the same instrument. Moreover, HR-full scan acquisition offers a global view of sample extracts and allows retrospective investigations as virtually all ionized compounds are detected with a high sensitivity. In time, the versatility of HRMS together with the increasing need for relative quantification of hundreds of endogenous metabolites should promote a shift from triple-quadrupole MS to HRMS. However, a current "pitfall" in quantitative LC-HRMS analysis is the lack of HRMS-specific guidance for validated quantitative analyses. Indeed, false positive and false negative HRMS detections are rare, albeit possible, if inadequate parameters are used. Here, we investigated two key parameters for the validation of LC-HRMS quantitative analyses: the mass accuracy (MA) and the mass-extraction-window (MEW) that is used to construct the extracted-ion-chromatograms. We propose MA-parameters, graphs, and equations to calculate rational MEW width for the validation of quantitative LC-HRMS methods. MA measurements were performed on four different LC-HRMS platforms. Experimentally determined MEW values ranged between 5.6 and 16.5 ppm and depended on the HRMS platform, its working environment, the calibration procedure, and the analyte considered. The proposed procedure provides a fit-for-purpose MEW determination and prevents false detections.