Coupling liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry detection with microfluidic droplet array for label-free enzyme inhibition assay†
In this work, the combination of droplet-based microfluidics with liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) was achieved, for providing a fast separation and high-information-content detection method for the analysis of nanoliter-scale droplets with complex compositions. A novel interface method was developed using an oil-covered droplet array chip to couple with an LC/MS system via a capillary sampling probe and a 4 nL injection valve without the need of a droplet extraction device. The present system can perform multistep operations including parallel enzyme inhibition reactions in nanoliter droplets, 4 nL sample injection, fast separation with capillary LC, and label-free detection with ESI-MS, and has significant flexibility in the accurate addressing and sampling of droplets of interest on demand. The system performance was evaluated using angiotensin I and angiotensin II as model samples, and the repeatabilities of peak area for angiotensin I and angiotensin II were 2.7% and 7.5% (RSD, n = 4), respectively. The present system was further applied to the screening for inhibitors of cytochrome P450 (CYP1A2) and measurement of the IC50 value of the inhibitor. The sample consumption for each droplet assay was 100 nL, which is reduced 10–100 times compared with conventional 384-multi-well plate systems usually used in high-throughput drug screening.