The importance of chiral amino acids (AAs) in living organisms has been widely recognized since the discovery of endogenous D-AAs as potential biomarkers in several metabolic disorders. Chiral analysis by ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry (IMS-MS) has the advantages of high speed and sensitivity but is still in its infancy. Here, an Nα-(2,4-dinitro-5-fluorophenyl)-L-alaninamide (FDAA) derivatization is combined with trapped ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry (TIMS-MS) for chiral AA analysis. For the first time, we demonstrate the simultaneous separation of 19 pairs of chiral proteinogenic AAs in a single fixed condition TIMS-MS run. The utility of this approach is presented for mouse brain extracts by direct-infusion TIMS-MS. The robust separation ability in complex biological samples was proven in matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) TIMS mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) as well by directly depositing 19 pairs of chiral AAs on a tissue slide following on-tissue derivatization. In addition, endogenous chiral amino acids were also detected and distinguished. The developed methods show compelling application prospects in biomarker discovery and biological research.
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