On-line preconcentration strategies for trace analysis of metabolites by capillary electrophoresis
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Analysis of low concentrations of metabolites is required for new fields of biological research, such as metabolomics. In this review, recent work in our laboratory aimed at developing improved strategies for on-line sample preconcentration of metabolites by capillary electrophoresis (CE) is presented. Dynamic pH junction, sweeping and dynamic pH junction-sweeping represent three complementary methods for electrokinetic focusing of large volumes of sample directly on-capillary. Focusing selectivity and focusing efficiency are two factors that can be used to assess the suitability of each method for different classes of metabolites. Buffer properties can be selected to enhance the focusing of specific types of metabolites based on knowledge of the analyte physicochemical properties. The application of on-line preconcentration CE for trace analysis of metabolites in real samples of interest, such as biological fluids and cellular extracts, is also demonstrated. Under optimum conditions, up to three orders of magnitude increase in concentration sensitivity can be realized for several classes of metabolites, including catecholamines, purines, nucleosides, nucleotides, amino acids, steroids and coenzymes. Recent work on hyphenating on-line preconcentration with multiplexed CE is highlighted as a promising platform for sensitive and high-throughput analyses of metabolites.
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