If you are interested in performing a metabolite profiling experiment, please contact Caroline Lewis at calewis at wi.mit.edu to set up an initial consultation. Sample preparation, LC/MS, and data analysis methods vary widely depending on metabolite, sample type, and biological question. This page is intended to provide a general overview only.

    See Lisa Freinkman's recent webinar for an introduction to LC/MS-based metabolomics and an overview the WI metabolomics facility.

    We perform routine measurements of many polar metabolites (including amino acids, glycolytic and TCA cycle intermediates) using a polymeric hydrophilic interaction (pHILIC) column. Targeted and untargeted analyses of lipids are performed using a C18 column.

    Depending on the analyte of interest, researchers may be asked to provide a chemical standard to help verify the metabolite identification and for quantitation purposes.

    For many metabolites that have not previously been analyzed at our facility, we find that our existing methods are sufficient. However, in certain cases the sample preparation, chromatography and/or mass spectrometry portions of the analysis may need to be optimized or newly developed. Chemical standards are essential for this purpose.

    Several levels of analysis are available:
    • Relative differences in metabolite concentrations between groups of samples are sufficient for many applications
    • Absolute (molar) quantitation is performed using standard curves
    • Certain applications may benefit from untargeted analysis, which we perform using Progenesis CoMet (Nonlinear Dynamics) and LipidSearch (Thermo Fisher / Mitsui Knowledge Industries) software for polar metabolites and lipids, respectively

    The appropriate type of analysis will be determined as part of our initial consultation.