A Fast, Fully Validated GC-MS Method Using a Simplified Pretreatment for the Quantification of Short and Branched Chain Fatty Acids in Human Stool

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Journal of Mass Spectrometry


The study of short (SCFAs) and branched chain fatty acids (BCFAs) in human stool related to gastrointestinal diseases, gut microbiota, metabolism, and diet has dramatically increased. As a result, a fast, reliable method with minimal pretreatment is needed for quantification of these metabolites (acetic, propionic, isobutyric, butyric, isovaleric, valeric, and caproic acid) in stool. Therefore, a GC-MS method meeting this criterion was developed. A bias sampling study showed no statistical difference (p > 0.05) in analyte means when comparing 100 mg subsamples of homogenized to non-homogenized samples (n = 6, p values 0.153-0.910). Stool samples were homogenized, diluted with 80:20 water:methanol (v/v), and adjusted to a pH of 1.5-2.5. Samples were vortexed, centrifuged, and directly injected into the GC-MS using pulsed splitless injection offering twofold-to-threefold signal enhancement over a 10:1 split injection. DB-FATWAX Ultra Inert Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) Column showed no peak tailing, reduced responses, or retention time shifts after 1,476 stool injections, while other columns failed before 361 injections. Intra- and inter-day accuracy for stool supernatant samples ranged from -10.21% to 8.88% and -13.25% to 9.91%, while intra- and inter-day precision ranged from 0.21% to 1.21% and 0.89% to 2.84% coefficient of variation (CV), respectively. This method demonstrates excellent linearity (0.9999-1.0000) and low limits of quantification (1.50-8.01 mu M). Stool samples proved stable stored at -20 degrees C up to 28 days, and recoveries ranged from 85.04% to 106.59%. Matrix effects in stool are non-significant determined by comparing standard and stool supernatant calibration curve slopes (p > 0.05).