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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

Editor-in-Chief: Plebani, Mario

Ed. by Gillery, Philippe / Greaves, Ronda / Lackner, Karl J. / Lippi, Giuseppe / Melichar, Bohuslav / Payne, Deborah A. / Schlattmann, Peter

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 3.556

CiteScore 2018: 2.44

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 1.191
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.205

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Volume 49, Issue 7


Measurement of plasma amino acids by Ultraperformance® Liquid Chromatography

Srinivas B. Narayan / Gail Ditewig-Meyers
  • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Kendon S. Graham / Robert Scott
  • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Michael J. Bennett
  • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2011-06-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2011.200


Background: Since the early 1960s, quantitative amino acid analysis (AAA) has traditionally been performed using ion-exchange chromatography with post-column ninhydrin derivatization. This established technology has many advantages, including relatively low cost of operation and ease of use. However, analysis times of 120+ min and high maintenance requirements make this technology unsuitable for the modern clinical laboratories with a requirement for rapid turnaround times. The work described here is a summary of our experiences with a new approach to full profile analysis of physiological amino acids.

Methods: Amino acids were derivatized in batches with a proprietary reagent, AccQTag®, which reacts with primary and secondary amines. The derivatized amino acids were separated using Ultraperformance® Liquid Chromatography (UPLC). In a prospective method comparison, quantitative plasma amino acid data obtained from approximately 170 patient samples using both the UPLC method and a traditional ion-exchange chromatography amino acid analyzer were evaluated.

Results: The data obtained from the two methods were found to agree well. Correlation coefficients for the most important amino acids seen in inborn errors of metabolism, such as phenylalanine, tyrosine and branched chain amino acids varied from 0.8658 to 0.9932 with minor slope biases. This approach also reduced the run time from 120 to 45 min per sample using a sample volume of 0.1 mL, compared to the 0.5 mL volume required for ion-exchange chromatography.

Conclusions: This new approach for the full profile analysis of physiological amino acids has been shown to be a viable substitute for current ion-exchange methodologies. It provides substantial benefits including significant reductions in runtime and necessary sample volume for the investigation and monitoring of patients with metabolic disorders and for nutritional management of a variety of patients.

Keywords: plasma amino acids; pre-column derivatization; UPLC

About the article

Corresponding author: Srinivas B. Narayan, PhD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 5199C, 5th Floor, Main Bldg, 34th ST and Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA Phone: +1 215-590-3394, Fax: +1 215-590-1998

Received: 2011-01-11

Accepted: 2011-03-08

Published Online: 2011-06-27

Published in Print: 2011-07-01

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Volume 49, Issue 7, Pages 1177–1185, ISSN (Online) 1437-4331, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2011.200.

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