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Misleading measures in Vitamin D analysis: A novel LC-MS/MS assay to account for epimers and isobars

Iltaf Shah1, Ricky James1, James Barker2, Andrea Petroczi1 and Declan P Naughton1*

Author affiliations

1 School of Life Sciences, Kingston University, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, UK

2 School of Pharmacy and Chemistry, Kingston University, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrrey, UK

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:46  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-46

Published: 14 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Recently, the accuracies of many commercially available immunoassays for Vitamin D have been questioned. Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC- MS/MS) has been shown to facilitate accurate separation and quantification of the major circulating metabolite 25-hydroxyvitamin-D3 (25OHD3) and 25-hydroxyvitamin-D2 (25OHD2) collectively termed as 25OHD. However, among other interferents, this method may be compromised by overlapping peaks and identical masses of epimers and isobars, resulting in inaccuracies in circulating 25OHD measurements. The aim of this study was to develop a novel LC-MS/MS method that can accurately identify and quantitate 25OHD3 and 25OHD2 through chromatographic separation of 25OHD from its epimers and isobars.

Methods

A positive ion electrospray ionisation (ESI) LC-MS/MS method was used in the Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) mode for quantification. It involved i) liquid-liquid extraction, ii) tandem columns (a high resolution ZORBAX C18 coupled to an ULTRON chiral, with guard column and inlet filter), iii) Stanozolol-D3 as internal standard, and iv) identification via ESI and monitoring of three fragmentation transitions. To demonstrate the practical usefulness of our method, blood samples were collected from 5 healthy male Caucasian volunteers; age range 22 to 37 years and 25OHD2, 25OHD3 along with co-eluting epimers and analogues were quantified.

Results

The new method allowed chromatographic separation and quantification of 25OHD2, 25OHD3, along with 25OHD3 epimer 3-epi-25OHD3 and isobars 1-α-hydroxyvitamin-D3 (1αOHD3), and 7-α-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (7αC4). The new assay was capable of detecting 0.25 ng/mL of all analytes in serum.

Conclusions

To our knowledge, this is the first specific, reliable, reproducible and robust LC-MS/MS method developed for the accurate detection of 25OHD (Vitamin D). The method is capable of detecting low levels of 25OHD3 and 25OHD2 together with chromatographic separation from the co-eluting epimers and isobars and circumvents other instrumental/analytical interferences. This analytical method does not require time-consuming derivatisation and complex extraction techniques and could prove very useful in clinical studies.