Broad-Spectrum Drug Screening Using Liquid Chromatography-Hybrid Triple-Quadrupole Linear Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry

  • Judy StoneEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1383)


Urine is processed with a simple C18 solid-phase extraction (SPE) and reconstituted in mobile phase. The liquid chromatography system (LC) injects 10 μL of extracted sample onto a reverse-phase LC column for gradient analysis with ammonium formate/acetonitrile mobile phases. Drugs in the column eluent become charged in the ion source using positive electrospray ionization (ESI). Pseudomolecular ions (M + H) are analyzed by a hybrid triple-quadrupole linear ion trap (QqQ and QqLIT) mass spectrometer using an SRM-IDA-EPI acquisition. An initial 125 compound selected ion monitoring (SRM) survey scan (triple quadrupole or QqQ mode) is processed by the information-dependent acquisition (IDA) algorithm. The IDA algorithm selects SRM signals from the survey scan with a peak height above the threshold (the three most abundant SRM signals above 1000 cps) to define precursor ions for subsequent dependent scanning. In the dependent QqLIT scan(s), selected precursor ion(s) are passed through the first quadrupole (Q1), fragmented with three different collision energies in the collision cell (Q2 or q), and product ions are collected in the third quadrupole (Q3), now operating as a linear ion trap (LIT). The ions are scanned out of the LIT in a mass dependent manner to produce a full-scan product ion spectrum (m/z 50–700) defined as an Enhanced (meaning acquired in LIT mode) Product Ion (EPI) spectrum (Mueller et al., Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 19:1332–1338, 2005). Each EPI spectrum is linked to its precursor ion and to the associated SRM peak from the survey scan. EPI spectra are automatically searched against a 125 drug library of reference EPI spectra for identification. When the duty cycle is complete (one survey scan of 125 SRMs plus 0–3 dependent IDA-EPI scans) the mass spectrometer begins another survey scan of the 125 SRMs.

Key words

Broad-spectrum drug screening Urine solid-phase extraction Positive-mode electrospray Hybrid triple-quadrupole linear ion trap Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MSMS) 



The author would like to thank Julia Drees, Ph.D., Scientific Director, and Judy Chang, M.Sc., Scientific Director, from Kaiser TPMG Regional Laboratories, Berkeley, CA, and Christopher Borton, Ph.D., from AB Sciex for their contributions to the development of this method, expert advice, and fruitful collaboration.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Toxicology/Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Center for Advanced Laboratory MedicineUniversity of California San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

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