Isotopic Distribution Calibration for Mass Spectrometry

Anthony D. Maus, Jennifer V. Kemp, Todd J. Hoffmann, Steven L. Ramsay, Stefan K.G. Grebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mass spectrometry (MS) is widely used in science and industry. It allows accurate, specific, sensitive, and reproducible detection and quantification of a huge range of analytes. Across MS applications, quantification by MS has grown most dramatically, with >50 million experiments/year in the USA alone. However, quantification performance varies between instruments, compounds, different samples, and within- and across runs, necessitating normalization with analyte-similar internal standards (IS) and use of IS-corrected multipoint external calibration curves for each analyte, a complicated and resource-intensive approach, which is particularly ill-suited for multi-analyte measurements. We have developed an internal calibration method that utilizes the natural isotope distribution of an IS for a given analyte to provide internal multipoint calibration. Multiple isotope distribution calibrators for different targets in the same sample facilitate multiplex quantification, while the emerging random-access automated MS platforms should also greatly benefit from this approach. Finally, isotope distribution calibration allows mathematical correction for suboptimal experimental conditions. This might also enable quantification of hitherto difficult, or impossible to quantify, targets, if the distribution is adjustedin silicoto mimic the analyte. The approach works well for high resolution, accurate mass MS for analytes with at least a modest-sized isotopic envelope. As shown herein, the approach can also be applied to lower molecular weight analytes, but the reduction in calibration points does reduce quantification performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12532-12540
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 21 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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