Metabolic profiling of human saliva before and after induced physiological stress by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-ion mobility-mass spectrometry

A method has been developed for metabolite profiling of the salivary metabolome based on protein precipitation and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with ion mobility-mass spectrometry (UHPLC–IM–MS). The developed method requires 0.5 mL of human saliva, which is easily obtainable by passive drool. Standard protocols have been established for the collection, storage and pre-treatment of saliva. The use of UHPLC allows rapid global metabolic profiling for biomarker discovery with a cycle time of 15 min. Mass spectrometry imparts the ability to analyse a diverse number of species reproducibly over a wide dynamic range, which is essential for profiling of biofluids. The combination of UHPLC with IM–MS provides an added dimension enabling complex metabolic samples to be separated on the basis of retention time, ion mobility and mass-to-charge ratio in a single chromatographic run. The developed method has been applied to targeted metabolite identification and untargeted metabolite profiling of saliva samples collected before and after exercise-induced physiological stress. δ-Valerolactam has been identified as a potential biomarker on the basis of retention time, MS/MS spectrum and ion mobility drift time.