Sample preconcentration with chemical derivatization in capillary electrophoresis
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New strategies for integrating sample pretreatment with chemical analyses under a single format is required for rapid, sensitive and enantioselective analyses of low abundance metabolites in complex biological samples. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) offers a unique environment for controlling analyte/reagent band dispersion and electromigration properties using discontinuous electrolyte systems. Recent work in our laboratory towards developing a high-throughput CE platform for low abundance metabolites via on-line sample preconcentration with chemical derivatization (SPCD) is primarily examined in this review, as there have been surprisingly only a few strategies reported in the literature to date. In-capillary sample preconcentration serves to enhance concentration sensitivity via electrokinetic focusing of long sample injection volumes for lower detection limits, whereas chemical derivatization by zone passing is used to expand detectability and selectivity, notably for enantiomeric resolution of metabolites lacking intrinsic chromophores using nanolitre volumes of reagent. Together, on-line SPCD-CE can provide over a 100-fold improvement in concentration sensitivity, shorter total analysis times, reduced sample handling and improved reliability for a variety of amino acid and amino sugar metabolites, which is also amenable to automated high-throughput screening. This review will highlight basic method development and optimization parameters relevant to SPCD-CE, including applications to bacterial metabolite flux and biomarker analyses. Insight into the mechanism of analyte focusing and labeling by SPCD-CE is also discussed, as well as future directions for continued research.
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