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Comprehensive Three-Dimensional LC × LC × Ion Mobility Spectrometry Separation Combined with High-Resolution MS for the Analysis of Complex Samples

Venter, Pieter, Muller, Magriet, Vestner, Jochen, Stander, Maria A., Tredoux, Andreas G. J., Pasch, Harald, de Villiers, André
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.19 pp. 11643-11650
comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography, data quality, flavonoids, hydrophilic interaction chromatography, ions, phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, procyanidins, protocols, spectroscopy
Comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography (LC × LC) and ion mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry (IMS–MS) are increasingly being used to address challenges associated with the analysis of highly complex samples. In this work, we evaluate the potential of the combination of these techniques in the form of a comprehensive three-dimensional LC × LC × IMS separation system. As application, hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC) × reversed phase LC (RP-LC) × IMS–high-resolution MS (HR-MS) was used to analyze a range of phenolic compounds, including hydrolyzable and condensed tannins, flavonoids, and phenolic acids in several natural products. A protocol for the extraction and visualization of the four-dimensional data obtained using this approach was developed. We show that the combination of HILIC, RP-LC, and IMS offers excellent separation of complex phenolic samples in three dimensions. Benefits associated with the incorporation of IMS include improved MS sensitivity and mass-spectral data quality. IMS also provided separation of trimeric procyanidin isomeric species that could not be differentiated by HILIC × RP-LC or HR-MS. On the traveling wave IMS (TWIMS) system used here, both IMS separation performance and the extent of second dimension (²D) undersampling depend on the upper mass scan limit, which might present a limitation for the analysis of larger molecular ions. The performance of the LC × LC × IMS system was characterized in terms of practical peak capacity and separation power, using established theory and taking undersampling and orthogonality into account. An average increase in separation performance by a factor of 13 was found for the samples analyzed here when IMS was incorporated into the HILIC × RP-LC–MS workflow.