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Despite the extensive use of electrospray ionization (ESI) for the quantification of neuropeptides by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), poor ionization and transmission efficiency are described for this ionization interface. A new atmospheric pressure ionization source, named UniSpray, was recently developed and commercialized. In this study, the LC-MS performance of this new ioniza- tion interface is evaluated and compared with ESI for the quantification of seven neuropeptides. Besides comparison of signal intensities and charge state distributions, also signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios and ac- curacy and precision were assessed. Additionally, matrix effects of human precipitated plasma and rat microdialysate were evaluated as well as the effect of three supercharging agents on the ionization of the seven neuropeptides. UniSpray ionization resulted in signal intensities four to eight times higher at the optimal capillary/impactor voltage for all seven neuropeptides. S/N values at the other hand only in- creased by not more than a twofold when the UniSpray source was used. Moreover, UniSpray ionization resulted in a shift towards lower charge states for some neuropeptides. Evaluation of the matrix effects by a post-column infusion set-up resulted in different infusion profiles between ESI and UniSpray. The charge state distributions of the neuropeptides obtained with UniSpray are highly comparable with ESI. Finally, the effect of the supercharging agents on the ionization of the neuropeptides tends to be peptide- dependent with both ionization sources.
- Neuropeptide; UHPLC-MS/MS; Electrospray ionization; UniSpray ionization; Matrix effect; Supercharging agent
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