Approaches to Improve the Quantitation of Oxytocin in Human Serum by Mass Spectrometry
ORIGINAL RESEARCH article
Front. Chem., 09 June 2022 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fchem.2022.889154
Anke Hering1†, Beverly Jieu1†, Alun Jones1 and Markus Muttenthaler1,2*
- 1Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
- 2Institute of Biological Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) regulates several peripheral and central functions and is a molecule of interest in psychiatric diseases such as autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. The study of OT in human serum samples is however hampered by inconsistent sample preparation and analysis as well as low endogenous blood concentration (1–10 pM). This results in varying reports on OT’s blood levels and interpretation of OT’s role in different (patho)physiological states. Quantitative mass spectrometry (MS) is a highly promising technology to address this problem but still requires large sample volumes to achieve adequate sensitivity and reliability for the quantitation of compounds at low concentrations. We therefore systematically evaluated sample preparation methods for MS to achieve a reliable sample preparation protocol with good peptide recovery, minimal matrix effects and good overall method efficiency in line with FDA guidelines for bioanalytic method development and validation. Additionally, we investigated a strategy to improve the ionization efficiency of OT by adding charged and/or hydrophobic moieties to OT to improve the lower limit of quantitation. Optimized sample preparation in combination with OT modification with a quaternary pyridinium ion improved the sensitivity of OT by ∼40-fold on a tandem triple quadrupole mass spectrometer (API4000 QTRAP), resulting in a lower limit of quantitation of 5 pM in water (linear range 5 pM – 1 mM) and 2 nM in human serum (linear range 2 nM – 1 mM) compared to 200 pM in water and 86 nM in serum with unmodified OT. This approach and protocol provide a solid foundation towards method development for OT quantitation using MS, which should be of high value for fundamental research as well as clinical monitoring of OT upon drug treatments.more...