Development of a sheathless CE-ESI-MS interface

Akiyoshi Hirayama, Hiroshi Abe, Nozomi Yamaguchi, Sho Tabata, Masaru Tomita, Tomoyoshi Soga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


A sheath-flow interface is the most common ionization technique in CE-ESI-MS. However, this interface dilutes the analytes with the sheath liquid and decreases the sensitivity. In this study, we developed a sheathless CE-MS interface to improve sensitivity. The interface was fabricated by making a small crack approximately 2 cm from the end of a capillary column fixed on a plastic plate, and then covering the crack with a dialysis membrane to prevent metabolite loss during separation. A voltage for CE separation was applied between the capillary inlet and the buffer reservoir. Under optimum conditions, 52 cationic metabolite standards were separated and selectively detected using MS. With a pressure injection of 5 kPa for 15 s (ca. 1.4 nL), the detection limits for the tested compounds were between 0.06 and 1.7 μmol/L (S/N = 3). The method was applied to analysis of cationic metabolites extracted from a small number (12 000) of cancer cells, and the number of peaks detected was about 2.5 times higher than when using conventional sheath-flow CE-MS. Because the interface is easy to construct, it is cost-effective and can be adapted to any commercially available capillaries. This method is a powerful new tool for highly sensitive CE-MS-based metabolomic analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1382-1389
Number of pages8
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun


  • Cancer cell
  • Capillary electrophoresis
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Metabolomics
  • Sheathless interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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