Direct extraction of urinary analytes from undeveloped reversed-phase thin layer chromatography plates using a solvent gradient combined with on-line electrospray ionisation ion mobility-mass spectrometry

The direct extraction of urinary analytes deposited on reversed-phase thin-layer chromatography (RP-TLC) plates is demonstrated using a solvent gradient extraction procedure without prior chromatographic development. The surface sample probe TLC-MS interface used for the gradient extraction is compared to direct loop injection into the electrospray ion source for biofluid profiling. The gradient elution is shown to enhance ion intensities, as urinary salts are eluted in aqueous formic acid in the early part of the gradient reducing ion suppression. The retention of urinary components on the C18 RP-TLC plate was confirmed by monitoring analyte responses with, and without, an aqueous wash phase prior to the solvent gradient extraction. The use of gradient elution allows fractionation of the complex biological matrix as a result of differential retention of urine components on the undeveloped RP-TLC plate. The direct gradient analysis of TLC plates has also been combined with ion mobility-mass spectrometry to further resolve the complex urinary profile and identify co-eluting compounds.