Systematic evaluation of matrix effects in hydrophilic interaction chromatography versus reversed phase liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry

Aurélie Periat, Isabelle Kohler, Aurélien Thomas, Raul Nicoli, Julien Boccard, Jean Luc Veuthey, Julie Schappler, Davy Guillarme*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Reversed phase liquid chromatography (RPLC) coupled to mass spectrometry (MS) is the gold standard technique in bioanalysis. However, hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC) could represent a viable alternative to RPLC for the analysis of polar and/or ionizable compounds, as it often provides higher MS sensitivity and alternative selectivity. Nevertheless, this technique can be also prone to matrix effects (ME). ME are one of the major issues in quantitative LC-MS bioanalysis. To ensure acceptable method performance (i.e., trueness and precision), a careful evaluation and minimization of ME is required. In the present study, the incidence of ME in HILIC-MS/MS and RPLC-MS/MS was compared for plasma and urine samples using two representative sets of 38 pharmaceutical compounds and 40 doping agents, respectively. The optimal generic chromatographic conditions in terms of selectivity with respect to interfering compounds were established in both chromatographic modes by testing three different stationary phases in each mode with different mobile phase pH. A second step involved the assessment of ME in RPLC and HILIC under the best generic conditions, using the post-extraction addition method.Biological samples were prepared using two different sample pre-treatments, i.e., a non-selective sample clean-up procedure (protein precipitation and simple dilution for plasma and urine samples, respectively) and a selective sample preparation, i.e., solid phase extraction for both matrices. The non-selective pretreatments led to significantly less ME in RPLC vs. HILIC conditions regardless of the matrix. On the contrary, HILIC appeared as a valuable alternative to RPLC for plasma and urine samples treated by a selective sample preparation. Indeed, in the case of selective sample preparation, the compounds influenced by ME were different in HILIC and RPLC, and lower and similar ME occurrence was generally observed in RPLC vs. HILIC for urine and plasma samples, respectively. The complementary of both chromatographic modes was also demonstrated, as ME was observed only scarcely for urine and plasma samples when selecting the most appropriate chromatographic mode.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-53
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrospray
  • Hydrophilic interaction chromatography
  • Ion suppression
  • Matrix effects
  • Plasma
  • Reversed phase chromatography
  • Urine


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