Selective detection of phospholipids in human blood plasma and single cells for cancer differentiation using dispersed solid-phase microextraction combined with extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry†
Phospholipids in microvolume biofluid samples (≤0.5 μL), including human plasma and single cells, were selectively captured by dispersed magnetic Fe3O4@TiO2 nanocomposite particles (40 μg). A suspension containing Fe3O4@TiO2 nanoparticles was loaded into a glass capillary (i.d. 0.75 mm) by capillary force. The supernatant solution was discarded, while the Fe3O4@TiO2 particles were retained inside the capillary by using an external magnetic field (ca. 1.3 T). The phospholipids on the surface of Fe3O4@TiO2 nanoparticles were directly analyzed using internal extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (iEESI-MS) by pumping ≤1 μL of extraction solution of methanol containing 1.5% ammonia (w/w) through the capillary tube toward the ESI tip. A single sample analysis was accomplished within 4 min. Phospholipids in blood plasma samples from 59 patients with ovarian cancer and 43 healthy controls, and 28 patients with pancreatic cancer and 23 healthy controls were studied. Based on the orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA), the cancer patients were confidently discriminated from the healthy controls. Phospholipids in single human cells (MV4–11 and NB4) were determined, showing the sensitivity for single cell analysis. Therefore the results demonstrated that rapid cancer differentiation is achieved using this approach through the detection of trace phospholipids in microvolume blood and cell samples with high sensitivity, high specificity, low sample consumption, and high throughput.