Development and validation of a rapid, robust and sensitive UPLC-QQQ-MS/MS method for simultaneous quantification of GSH metabolism in lung cancer cells

Lung Cancer

Zhang YF, et al. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci 2020.


Changes in cellular metabolism accompany tumor therapeutic resistance. Metabolite concentrations specifically reflect the cellular state. Glutathione (GSH) metabolism maintains the redox homeostasis while also confers therapeutic resistance to cancer cells. However, analytical methods for studying GSH metabolism rely on high-resolution-based untargeted metabolomics. Since the aim of untargeted metabolomics studies is covering as much metabolites as possible, these methods lack sensitivity for

simultaneous analysis of intracellular GSH-related metabolites with different polarities and structures. In this study, based on cultured lung cancer cells, we described a rapid, robust and sensitive ultra-performance liquid chromatography-triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrographic method (UPLC-QQQ-MS/MS) to simultaneously quantify a repertoire of GSH-related metabolites, including GSH, GSSG, glycine, cysteine, glutamine, glutamate, cystine, γ-glutamyl-cysteine and cysteinyl-glycine. This method avoided the use of derivatization and/or ion-pairing reagents and was validated according to United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) criteria. The lower limit of quantification was determined to be 0.5-100 ng/mL with lower limits of detection at 0.14-10.07 ng/mL. The intra- and inter-day precision values for all the analytes were <15% CV, and the accuracy ranged from 85.4% to 114% at three levels of quality control. This method combined simple preparation with rapid analytical procedure (8 min), allowed for high-throughput analysis of GSH metabolism in basic and therapeutic treatment conditions within cultured cells. Our data showed a significant alteration of GSH metabolism in two independent resistant cells compared to sensitive cells. This method monitored the impact of molecularly targeted drugs on GSH metabolism within lung cancer cells and therefore helped identifying potential metabolic vulnerability for the therapeutic resistance in lung cancer.