Separation of sugar isomers extracted from biological samples is challenging because of their natural occurrence as alpha and beta anomers and, in the case of hexoses, in their pyranose and furanose forms. A reductive amination method was developed for the tagging of sugars with the aim of it becoming part of a metabolomics work flow. The best separation of the common hexoses (glucose, fructose, mannose and galactose) was achieved when 2H5-aniline was used as the tagging reagent in combination with separation on a ZICHILIC column. The method was used to tag a range of sugars including pentoses and uronic acids. The method was simple to perform and was able to improve both the separation of sugars and their response to electrospray ionisation. The method was applied to the profiling of sugars in urine where a number of hexose and pentose isomers could be observed. It was also applied to the quantification of sugars in post-mortem brain samples from three control samples and three samples from individuals who had suffered from bipolar disorder.
- high resolution mass spectrometry
- hydrophilic interaction chromatography
- reductive amination
- sugar isomers