An LC-MS/MS method to quantify acylcarnitine species including isomeric and odd-numbered forms in plasma and tissues.
ABSTRACT: Acylcarnitines are intermediates of fatty acid and amino acid oxidation found in tissues and body fluids. They are important diagnostic markers for inherited diseases of peroxisomal and mitochondrial oxidation processes and were recently described as biomarkers of complex diseases like the metabolic syndrome. Quantification of acylcarnitine species can become challenging because various species occur as isomers and/or have very low concentrations. Here we describe a new LC-MS/MS method for quantification of 56 acylcarnitine species with acyl-chain lengths from C2 to C18. Our method includes amino acid-derived positional isomers, like methacrylyl-carnitine (2-M-C3:1-CN) and crotonyl-carnitine (C4:1-CN), and odd-numbered carbon species, like pentadecanoyl-carnitine (C15:0-CN) and heptadecanoyl-carnitine (C17:0-CN), occurring at very low concentrations in plasma and tissues. Method validation in plasma and liver samples showed high sensitivity and excellent accuracy and precision. In an application to samples from streptozotocin-treated diabetic mice, we identified significantly increased concentrations of acylcarnitines derived from branched-chain amino acid degradation and of odd-numbered straight-chain species, recently proposed as potential biomarkers for the metabolic syndrome. In conclusion, the LC-MS/MS method presented here allows robust quantification of isomeric acylcarnitine species and extends the palette of acylcarnitines with diagnostic potential derived from fatty acid and amino acid metabolism.
Project description:Tandem MS "profiling" of acylcarnitines and amino acids was conceived as a first-tier screening method, and its application to expanded newborn screening has been enormously successful. However, unlike amino acid screening (which uses amino acid analysis as its second-tier validation of screening results), acylcarnitine "profiling" also assumed the role of second-tier validation, due to the lack of a generally accepted second-tier acylcarnitine determination method. In this report, we present results from the application of our validated UHPLC-MS/MS second-tier method for the quantification of total carnitine, free carnitine, butyrobetaine, and acylcarnitines to patient samples with known diagnoses: malonic acidemia, short-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (SCADD) or isobutyryl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (IBD), 3-methyl-crotonyl carboxylase deficiency (3-MCC) or ß-ketothiolase deficiency (BKT), and methylmalonic acidemia (MMA). We demonstrate the assay's ability to separate constitutional isomers and diastereomeric acylcarnitines and generate values with a high level of accuracy and precision. These capabilities are unavailable when using tandem MS "profiles". We also show examples of research interest, where separation of acylcarnitine species and accurate and precise acylcarnitine quantification is necessary.
Project description:Acylcarnitines are fatty acyl esters of L-carnitine and facilitate the entry of long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria via the carnitine shuttle, where they are metabolized via ß-oxidation. Alterations of acylcarnitine species can be diagnostic for fatty acid oxidation disorders and organic aciduria and are thus frequently used to screen newborns. Only a subfraction of all known acylcarnitines is thereby monitored and quantified. Therefore, a method for the simultaneous fast and robust detection of all known acylcarnitines was developed using a single concise liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) approach. Derivatization by 3-nitrophenylhydrazine increased the signal intensity of the acylcarnitines and a linear elution from a reversed phase column was observed that was dependent on the length of the carbon chain. This allowed a precise prediction of the exact elution time for each acylcarnitine class, which depended solely on the chemical nature of the carbon chain. This method can be further used to screen for yet unknown acylcarnitine species and adds a layer of confidence for their correct identification. Altogether 123 acylcarnitines species were used to establish a targeted low-resolution LC-MS method. The method was applied to acylcarnitine profiling in several mouse tissues and fluids, in order to identify large differences in the quantity and composition of acylcarnitines.
Project description:Patients with beta-thalassemia major (BTM) suffer from fatigue, poor physical fitness, muscle weakness, lethargy, and cardiac complications which are related to an energy crisis. Carnitine and acylcarnitine derivatives play important roles in fatty acid oxidation, and deregulation of carnitine and acylcarnitine metabolism may lead to an energy crisis. The present study aimed to investigate carnitine and acylcarnitine metabolites to gain an insight into the pathophysiology of BTM. Dried blood spots of 45 patients with BTM and 96 age-matched healthy controls were analyzed for free carnitine and 24 acylcarnitines by using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Although medium chain acylcarnitine levels were similar in the patients with BTM and healthy controls, free carnitine, short chain acylcarnitines, long chain acylcarnitines, and total acylcarnitine levels were significantly lower in patients with BTM than in the healthy controls (P?<?0.05). Moreover, an impaired fatty acid oxidation rate was observed in the patients with BTM, as manifested by decreased fatty acid oxidation indicator ratios, namely C2/C0 and (C2?+?C3)/C0. Furthermore, an increase in the C0/(C16?+?C18) ratio indicated reduced carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 (CPT-1) activity in the patients with BTM compared with that in the healthy controls. Thus, a low level of free carnitine and acylcarnitines together with impaired CPT-1 activity contribute to energy crisis-related complications in the patients with BTM.
Project description:Because tandem mass spectrometry- (MS/MS-) based newborn screening identifies many suspicious cases of fatty acid oxidation and carnitine cycle disorders, a simple, noninvasive test is required to confirm the diagnosis. We have developed a novel method to evaluate the metabolic defects in peripheral blood mononuclear cells loaded with deuterium-labeled fatty acids directly using the ratios of acylcarnitines determined by flow injection MS/MS. We have identified diagnostic indices for the disorders as follows: decreased ratios of d27-C14-acylcarnitine/d31-C16-acylcarnitine and d23-C12-acylcarnitine/d31-C16-acylcarnitine for carnitine palmitoyltransferase-II (CPT-II) deficiency, decreased ratios of d23-C12-acylcarnitine/d27-C14-acylcarnitine for very long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (VLCAD) deficiency, and increased ratios of d29-C16-OH-acylcarnitine/d31-C16-acylcarnitine for trifunctional protein (TFP) deficiency, together with increased ratios of d7-C4-acylcarnitine/d31-C16-acylcarnitine for carnitine palmitoyltransferase-I deficiency. The decreased ratios of d1-acetylcarnitine/d31-C16-acylcarnitine could be indicative of ?-oxidation ability in patients with CPT-II, VLCAD, and TFP deficiencies. Overall, our data showed that the present method was valuable for establishing a rapid diagnosis of fatty acid oxidation disorders and carnitine cycle disorders and for complementing gene analysis because our diagnostic indices may overcome the weaknesses of conventional enzyme activity measurements using fibroblasts or mononuclear cells with assumedly uncertain viability.
Project description:The relationship between the acid-soluble carnitine and coenzyme A pools was studied in fed and 24-h-starved rats after carnitine administration. Carnitine given by intravenous injection at a dose of 60mumol/100g body wt. was integrated into the animal's endogenous carnitine pool. Large amounts of acylcarnitines appeared in the plasma and liver within 5min of carnitine injection. Differences in acid-soluble acylcarnitine concentrations were observed between fed and starved rats after injection and reflected the acylcarnitine/carnitine relationship seen in the endogenous carnitine pool of the two metabolic states. Thus, a larger acylcarnitine production was seen in starved animals and indicated a greater source of accessible acyl-CoA molecules. In addition to changes in the amount of acylcarnitines present, the specific acyl groups present also varied between groups of animals. Acetylcarnitine made up 37 and 53% of liver acid-soluble acylcarnitines in uninjected fed and starved animals respectively. At 5min after carnitine injection hepatic acid-soluble acylcarnitines were 41 and 73% in the form of acetylcarnitine in fed and starved rats respectively. Despite these large changes in carnitine and acylcarnitines, no changes were observed in plasma non-esterified fatty acid or beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations in either fed or starved rats. Additionally, measurement of acetyl-CoA, coenzyme A, total acid-soluble CoA and acid-insoluble CoA demonstrated that the hepatic CoA pool was resistant to carnitine-induced changes. This lack of change in the hepatic CoA pool or ketone-body production while acyl groups are shunted from acyl-CoA molecules to acylcarnitines suggests a low flux through the carnitine pool compared with the CoA pool. These results support the concept that the carnitine/acid-soluble acylcarnitine pool reflects changes in, rather than inducing changes in, the hepatic CoA/acyl-CoA pool.
Project description:Treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), the carboxylic form of vitamin A, lowers body weight in rodents by promoting oxidative metabolism in multiple tissues including white and brown adipose tissues. We aimed to identify novel markers of the metabolic impact of ATRA through targeted blood metabolomics analyses, with a focus on acylcarnitines and amino acids. Blood was obtained from mice treated with a high ATRA dose (50 mg/kg body weight/day, subcutaneous injection) or placebo (controls) during the 4 days preceding collection. LC-MS/MS analyses with a focus on acylcarnitines and amino acids were conducted on plasma and PBMC. Main results showed that, relative to controls, ATRA-treated mice had in plasma: increased levels of carnitine, acetylcarnitine, and longer acylcarnitine species; decreased levels of citrulline, and increased global arginine bioavailability ratio for nitric oxide synthesis; increased levels of creatine, taurine and docosahexaenoic acid; and a decreased n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids ratio. While some of these features likely reflect the stimulation of lipid mobilization and oxidation promoted by ATRA treatment systemically, other may also play a causal role underlying ATRA actions. The results connect ATRA to specific nutrition-modulated biochemical pathways, and suggest novel mechanisms of action of vitamin A-derived retinoic acid on metabolic health.
Project description:Insulin resistance may be linked to incomplete fatty acid ?-oxidation and the subsequent increase in acylcarnitine species in different tissues including skeletal muscle. It is not known if acylcarnitines participate in muscle insulin resistance or simply reflect dysregulated metabolism. The aims of this study were to determine whether acylcarnitines can elicit muscle insulin resistance and to better understand the link between incomplete muscle fatty acid ?-oxidation, oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin-resistance development. Differentiated C2C12, primary mouse, and human myotubes were treated with acylcarnitines (C4:0, C14:0, C16:0) or with palmitate with or without carnitine acyltransferase inhibition by mildronate. Treatment with C4:0, C14:0, and C16:0 acylcarnitines resulted in 20-30% decrease in insulin response at the level of Akt phosphorylation and/or glucose uptake. Mildronate reversed palmitate-induced insulin resistance concomitant with an ?25% decrease in short-chain acylcarnitine and acetylcarnitine secretion. Although proinflammatory cytokines were not affected under these conditions, oxidative stress was increased by 2-3 times by short- or long-chain acylcarnitines. Acylcarnitine-induced oxidative stress and insulin resistance were reversed by treatment with antioxidants. Results are consistent with the conclusion that incomplete muscle fatty acid ?-oxidation causes acylcarnitine accumulation and associated oxidative stress, raising the possibility that these metabolites play a role in muscle insulin resistance.
Project description:To assess the effects of acylcarnitine accumulation on muscle insulin sensitivity, a model of muscle acylcarnitine accumulation was generated by deleting carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 (CPT2) specifically from skeletal muscle (Cpt2Sk-/- mice). CPT2 is an irreplaceable enzyme for mitochondrial long-chain fatty acid oxidation, converting matrix acylcarnitines to acyl-CoAs. Compared with controls, Cpt2Sk-/- muscles do not accumulate anabolic lipids but do accumulate ?22-fold more long-chain acylcarnitines. High-fat-fed Cpt2Sk-/- mice resist weight gain, adiposity, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and impairments in insulin-induced Akt phosphorylation. Obesity resistance of Cpt2Sk-/- mice could be attributed to increases in lipid excretion via feces, GFD15 production, and energy expenditure. L-carnitine supplement intervention lowers acylcarnitines and improves insulin sensitivity independent of muscle mitochondrial fatty acid oxidative capacity. The loss of muscle CPT2 results in a high degree of long-chain acylcarnitine accumulation, simultaneously protecting against diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance.
Project description:In vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) deficiency the metabolism of propionyl-CoA and methylmalonyl-CoA are inhibited secondarily to decreased L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase activity. Production of acylcarnitines provides a mechanism for removing acyl groups and liberating CoA under conditions of impaired acyl-CoA utilization. Carnitine metabolism was studied in the vitamin B-12-deficient rat to define the relationship between alterations in acylcarnitine generation and the development of methylmalonic aciduria. Urinary excretion of methylmalonic acid was increased 200-fold in vitamin B-12-deficient rats as compared with controls. Urinary acylcarnitine excretion was increased in the vitamin B-12-deficient animals by 70%. This increase in urinary acylcarnitine excretion correlated with the degree of metabolic impairment as measured by the urinary methylmalonic acid elimination. Urinary propionylcarnitine excretion averaged 11 nmol/day in control rats and 120 nmol/day in the vitamin B-12-deficient group. The fraction of total carnitine present as short-chain acylcarnitines in the plasma and liver of vitamin B-12-deficient rats was increased as compared with controls. When the rats were fasted for 48 h, relative or absolute increases were seen in the urine, plasma, liver and skeletal-muscle acylcarnitine content of the vitamin B-12-deficient rats as compared with controls. Thus vitamin B-12 deficiency was associated with a redistribution of carnitine towards acylcarnitines. Propionylcarnitine was a significant constituent of the acylcarnitine pool in the vitamin B-12-deficient animals. The changes in carnitine metabolism were consistent with the changes in CoA metabolism known to occur with vitamin B-12 deficiency. The vitamin B-12-deficient rat provides a model system for studying carnitine metabolism in the methylmalonic acidurias.
Project description:The period around bariatric surgery offers a unique opportunity to characterize metabolism responses to dynamic shifts in energy, gut function, and anesthesia. We analyzed plasma acylcarnitines in obese women (n = 17) sampled in the overnight fasted/postabsorptive state approximately 1-2 wk before surgery (condition A), the morning of surgery (prior restriction to a 48-h clear liquid diet coupled in some cases a standard polyethylene glycol gut evacuation: condition B), and following induction of anesthesia (condition C). Comparisons tested if 1) plasma acylcarnitine derivatives reflective of fatty acid oxidation (FAO) and xenometabolism would be significantly increased and decreased, respectively, by preoperative gut preparation/negative energy balance (condition A vs. B), and 2) anesthesia would acutely depress markers of FAO. Acylcarnitines associated with fat mobilization and FAO were significantly increased in condition B: long-chain acylcarnitines (i.e., C18:1, ~70%), metabolites from active but incomplete FAO [i.e., C14:1 (161%) and C14:2 (102%)] and medium- to short-chain acylcarnitines [i.e., C2 (91%), R-3-hydroxybutyryl-(245%), C6 (45%), and cis-3,4-methylene-heptanoyl-(17%), etc.]. Branched-chain amino acid markers displayed disparate patterns [i.e., isobutyryl-(40% decreased) vs. isovaleryl carnitine (51% increased)]. Anesthesia reduced virtually every acylcarnitine. These results are consistent with a fasting-type metabolic phenotype coincident with the presurgical "gut preparation" phase of bariatric surgery, and a major and rapid alteration of both fat and amino acid metabolism with onset of anesthesia. Whether presurgical or anesthesia-associated metabolic shifts in carnitine and fuel metabolism impact patient outcomes or surgical risks remains to be evaluated experimentally.