Determination of blood folate using acid extraction and internally standardized gas chromatography-mass spectrometry detection

Stephen R. Dueker, Yumei Lin, A. Daniel Jones, Roger Mercer, Elisabetta Fabbro, Joshua W. Miller, Ralph Green, Andrew J. Clifford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Whole blood folate level is a superior indicator of folate nutritional status than serum/plasma level. Problems with and lack of confidence in results of current whole blood folate assays have limited its popularity for assessing folate nutritional status. Here, an acid extraction GCMS detection method that measures total folate whole blood is presented. Folates are released from the matrix of whole blood and cleaved to para-aminobenzoic acid (pABA) by acid hydrolysis in the presence of [13C6]pABA as internal standard (IS). The hydrolysate is passed over a C18 resin to remove heme. The pABA isotopomers are ethyl esterified, isolated on C18 resin, and trifluoroacetylated. Following normal-phase HPLC separation, the isotopomers are silylated to their tBDMS derivatives. The abundance of these derivatives are measured at m/z 324 for [13C6]pABA as IS and m/z 318 for pABA from whole blood folate. Our method uses readily available chemicals and our results agree well with those using Lactobacillus casei, the current gold standard reference assay. The presence of folate analogs (methotrexate) or antibacterials (sulfonamines) does not affect our method. This feature makes it useful in monitoring folate status of patients undergoing chemotherapy. Before using our method, pABA supplements must be discontinued for a few days. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-275
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2000


  • Analysis
  • Extraction
  • Folate
  • Gas chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Whole blood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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