Development of a fast and cost-effective gas chromatography–mass spectrometry method for the quantification of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids in human biofluids

Cesare Lotti, Josep Rubert, Francesca Fava, Kieran Tuohy, Fulvio Mattivi, Urska Vrhovsek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The quantification of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids is becoming more and more relevant in fecal and plasma samples due to their biological impact, which has been associated with colon rectal cancer and fiber consumption. For these reasons, a fast, cost-effective, and reproducible analytical method is highly required. In this research, a gas chromatography–mass spectrometry method based on full scan and multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) acquisition modes were optimized and validated for the analysis of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids in three biological samples: human fecal water, fecal fermentation supernatants, and human plasma. Several extraction solvents (acidified water, diethyl ether, dichloromethane, ethyl acetate, and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) were further evaluated, demonstrating that the latter was clearly the most suitable solvent with recoveries from 75.4 to 124.4% and coefficient of variations lower than 20%. The applicability of the GC–MS method was tested, for instance, acetic acid was quantified by using samples of plasma and feces from healthy donors at mean values of 66.9 μM and 24.5 mM, respectively. The optimized protocol could successfully find applications within multi-compartment human studies. In parallel, a second pilot experiment on fecal fermentation supernatants indicated that the proposed protocol is suitable to follow the formation of SCFAs during in vitro fermentation by the human gut microbiota. In summary, the present work provided an improved GC–MS method for precise and accurate quantification of SCFAs and MCFAs in human feces and plasma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5555-5567
Number of pages13
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Volume409
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Fecal water
  • Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry
  • Liquid–liquid extraction
  • Nutrition
  • Plasma
  • Short-chain fatty acids

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