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Representing the Metabolome with High Fidelity: Range and Response as Quality Control Factors in LC-MS-Based Global Profiling

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-13, 19:03 authored by Caroline J. Sands, María Gómez-Romero, Gonçalo Correia, Elena Chekmeneva, Stephane Camuzeaux, Chioma Izzi-Engbeaya, Waljit S. Dhillo, Zoltan Takats, Matthew R. Lewis
Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) is a powerful and widely used technique for measuring the abundance of chemical species in living systems. Its sensitivity, analytical specificity, and direct applicability to biofluids and tissue extracts impart great promise for the discovery and mechanistic characterization of biomarker panels for disease detection, health monitoring, patient stratification, and treatment personalization. Global metabolic profiling applications yield complex data sets consisting of multiple feature measurements for each chemical species observed. While this multiplicity can be useful in deriving enhanced analytical specificity and chemical identities from LC-MS data, data set inflation and quantitative imprecision among related features is problematic for statistical analyses and interpretation. This Perspective provides a critical evaluation of global profiling data fidelity with respect to measurement linearity and the quantitative response variation observed among components of the spectra. These elements of data quality are widely overlooked in untargeted metabolomics yet essential for the generation of data that accurately reflect the metabolome. Advanced feature filtering informed by linear range estimation and analyte response factor assessment is advocated as an attainable means of controlling LC-MS data quality in global profiling studies and exemplified herein at both the feature and data set level.