High-throughput screening of toxic substances by extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and their identification via databank construction

  • Shuanglong Wang
  • Faliang Li
  • YongZi Liu
  • Huian Zhao
  • Huanwen ChenEmail author
Paper in Forefront
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. New Insights into Analytical Science in China


More than 200 toxic substances (including narcotic drugs, psychotropic drugs, organic phosphorus compounds, carbamates, pyrethroids and other pesticides, veterinary drugs, rodenticides, natural toxins, and other drugs) were identified and quantified using an ion-trap mass spectrometer. The advantages of this technique—its selectivity, accuracy, precision, utilization of only small amounts of the sample, and short analysis time for a single sample (less than 30s)—render it a rapid and accurate methodology for toxin screening. Subsequently, an extractive electrospray ionization (EESI) mass spectrometry database was established by combining the Xcalibur data processing system with NIST database software. This allowed unknown toxicants in urine and blood samples, stomach contents, and liver samples, as provided by the Jiangxi Provincial Public Security Department, to be analyzed and identified. This EESI methodology and databank has the potential for widespread application to the large-scale analysis of practical samples.

Graphical abstract


Toxicants EESI-MS Databank Screen 



The work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 21675021, 21607161), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21520102007), Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in Universities (PCSIRT) (no. IRT 13054). The Research Fund of East China University of Technology (no. DHBK2017117), National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 21505017), and the Project of Jiangxi Provincial Department of Education (no. GJJ160544).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

All individual participants who gave blood and urine samples read and approved this experiment.

The studies were approved by the ethics committee of Nan Chang University in accordance with guideline chapter 5, N.21.

Supplementary material

216_2018_1520_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (400 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 400 kb)


  1. 1.
    Adatsi FK. Forensic toxicology A2. In: Wexler P, editor. Encyclopedia of toxicology. 3rd ed. Oxford: Academic Press; 2014. p. 647–52.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gupta PK. Chapter 31: Basic concepts of forensic toxicology. In: Fundamentals of toxicology. Oxford: Academic Press; 2016. p. 343–5.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Maurer HH. Current role of liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry in clinical and forensic toxicology. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007;388(7):1315–25. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cope WG, Leidy RB, Hodgson E. Classes of toxicants: use classes. A textbook of modern toxicology. Hoboken: Wiley; 2004. p. 49–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jain R, Singh R. Applications of dispersive liquid–liquid micro-extraction in forensic toxicology. TrAC Trends Anal Chem. 2016;75:227–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ojanperä I, Kolmonen M, Pelander A. Current use of high-resolution mass spectrometry in drug screening relevant to clinical and forensic toxicology and doping control. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012;403(5):1203–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Castillo-Peinado LS, Luque de Castro MD. Present and foreseeable future of metabolomics in forensic analysis. Anal Chim Acta. 2016;925:1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Maurer HH. Hyphenated mass spectrometric techniques—indispensable tools in clinical and forensic toxicology and in doping control. J Mass Spectrom. 2006;41(11):1399–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wood M, Laloup M, Samyn N, Del MRFM, de Bruijn EA, Maes RA, et al. Recent applications of liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry in forensic science. J Chromatogr A. 2006;1130(1):3–15.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Maurer HH. Position of chromatographic techniques in screening for detection of drugs or poisons in clinical and forensic toxicology and/or doping control. Clin Chem Lab Med (CCLM). 2004;42:1310–24.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ifa DR, Jackson AU, Paglia G, Cooks RG. Forensic applications of ambient ionization mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2009;394(8):1995–2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Chen H, Hu B, Yan H, Huan Y, Zhou Z, Qiao X. Neutral desorption using a sealed enclosure to sample explosives on human skin for rapid detection by EESI-MS. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2009;20(4):719–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chingin K, Gamez G, Chen H, Zhu L, Zenobi R. Rapid classification of perfumes by extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (EESI-MS). Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2008;22(13):2009–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Deng M, Yu T, Luo H, Zhu T, Huang X, Luo L. Direct detection of multiple pesticides in honey by neutral desorption–extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Int J Mass Spectrom. 2017;422:111–8.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Chen H, Arno W, Zhang W, Renato Z. Inside cover: rapid in vivo fingerprinting of nonvolatile compounds in breath by extractive electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Angew Chem Int Ed. 2007;46(4):580.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Chen R, Deng J, Fang L, Yao Y, Chen B, Wang X, et al. Recent applications of ambient ionization mass spectrometry in environmental analysis. Trends Environ Anal Chem. 2017;15:1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Waisiang L, Chen HW, Balabin R, Berchtold C, Meier L, Zenobi R. Rapid fingerprinting and classification of extra virgin olive oil by microjet sampling and extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Analyst. 2010;135(4):773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuanglong Wang
    • 1
  • Faliang Li
    • 1
  • YongZi Liu
    • 2
  • Huian Zhao
    • 2
  • Huanwen Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Jiangxi Key Laboratory for Mass Spectrometry and InstrumentationEast China University of TechnologyNanchangChina
  2. 2.Institute of Forensic ScienceJiangxi Provincial Public Security BureauNanchangChina

Personalised recommendations