Exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) is a useful biomarker of various physiological conditions, including asthma and other pulmonary diseases. Herein a fast and sensitive analytical method has been developed for the quantitative detection of eNO based on extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (EESI-MS). Exhaled NO molecules selectively reacted with 2-phenyl-4, 4, 5, 5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl-3-oxide (PTIO) reagent, and eNO concentration was derived based on the EESI-MS response of 1-oxyl-2-phenyl-4, 4, 5, 5-tetramethylimidazoline (PTI) product. The method allowed quantification of eNO below ppb level (∼0.02 ppbv) with a relative standard deviation (RSD) of 11.6%. In addition, eNO levels of 20 volunteers were monitored by EESI-MS over the time period of 10 hrs. Long-term eNO response to smoking a cigarette was recorded, and the observed time-dependent profile was discussed. This work extends the application of EESI-MS to small molecules (<30 Da) with low proton affinity and collision-induced dissociation efficiency, which are usually poorly visible by conventional ion trap mass spectrometers. Long-term quantitative profiling of eNO by EESI-MS opens new possibilities for the research of human metabolism and clinical diagnosis.
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