Paper spray mass spectrometry for high-throughput quantification of nicotine and cotinine
The rapid release of new tobacco products requires high-throughput quantitative methods to support tobacco research. Sample preparation for LC-MS and GC-MS is time consuming and limits throughput. Paper spray tandem mass spectrometry (PS-MS/MS) is proposed and validated as a simple and rapid method for quantification of nicotine and cotinine in complex matrices to support tobacco-related research. Air liquid interface (ALI) human tracheobronchial epithelial cell (HTBEC) cultures were exposed to tobacco smoke using a Vitrocell VC-10 smoking machine. Apical culture washes (phosphate buffered saline, PBS) and basolateral media were analyzed with the PS-MS/MS method. GC-MS/MS was used as a comparative quantitative technique. The PS-MS/MS approach allowed for direct spotting of samples on the paper substrate, whereas the GC-MS/MS method required additional sample preparation in the form of solvent–solvent extraction. Limits of quantitation (LOQs) were higher with the PS-MS/MS approach than GC-MS/MS, but still below the relevant concentrations found in HTBEC smoke exposure experiments as well as most clinical applications. PS-MS/MS is readily achieved on mass spectrometers that include atmospheric pressure inlets, and allows for convenient quantification from complex matrices that would otherwise require additional sample preparation and chromatographic separation.