A structural examination and collision cross section database for over 500 metabolites and xenobiotics using drift tube ion mobility spectrometry†
The confident identification of metabolites and xenobiotics in biological and environmental studies is an analytical challenge due to their immense dynamic range, vast chemical space and structural diversity. Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) is widely used for small molecule analyses since it can separate isomeric species and be easily coupled with front end separations and mass spectrometry for multidimensional characterizations. However, to date IMS metabolomic and exposomic studies have been limited by an inadequate number of accurate collision cross section (CCS) values for small molecules, causing features to be detected but not confidently identified. In this work, we utilized drift tube IMS (DTIMS) to directly measure CCS values for over 500 small molecules including primary metabolites, secondary metabolites and xenobiotics. Since DTIMS measurements do not need calibrant ions or calibration like some other IMS techniques, they avoid calibration errors which can cause problems in distinguishing structurally similar molecules. All measurements were performed in triplicate in both positive and negative polarities with nitrogen gas and seven different electric fields, so that relative standard deviations (RSD) could be assessed for each molecule and structural differences studied. The primary metabolites analyzed to date have come from key metabolism pathways such as glycolysis, the pentose phosphate pathway and the tricarboxylic acid cycle, while the secondary metabolites consisted of classes such as terpenes and flavonoids, and the xenobiotics represented a range of molecules from antibiotics to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Different CCS trends were observed for several of the diverse small molecule classes and when urine features were matched to the database, the addition of the IMS dimension greatly reduced the possible number of candidate molecules. This CCS database and structural information are freely available for download at http://panomics.pnnl.gov/metabolites/ with new molecules being added frequently.