Measurement of homocysteine and related metabolites in human plasma and urine by liquid chromatography electrospray tandem mass spectrometry.
ABSTRACT The sulfur amino acids, methionine and cysteine play crucial roles in cells as a substrate for protein synthesis, as a methyl donor, and for the synthesis of sulfur-containing compounds, including the key intracellular tripeptide, glutathione. Homocysteine is an intermediary metabolite formed during the metabolism of methionine to cysteine. Dysregulation of homocysteine metabolism is implicated in adverse clinical outcomes such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease dementia and osteoporosis. While hyperhomocysteinemia is commonly observed in those conditions, the impact on other related metabolites is condition-specific. Therefore, there exists a need to establish precise and sensitive analytical techniques that allow for the simultaneous measurement of homocysteine and related metabolites in biological samples. The current review outlines the development and use of liquid chromatography electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to simultaneously measure metabolites involved in sulfur amino acid metabolism. Additionally, extensions of the technique in relation to the measurement of sulfur amino acid and one-carbon kinetics in vivo are discussed. The LC-MS/MS technique has the capacity for unambiguous analyte identification and confirmation, due to its high specificity and sensitivity. It has the greatest potential of being accepted and utilized as a dedicated homocysteine and its related metabolite Standard reference method (SRM).