Pyroglutamate (5-oxoproline) measured with hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC) tandem mass spectrometry in acutely ill patients

Carel J. Pretorius, Michael C. Reade, Chris Warnholtz, Brett McWhinney, Meng Mei Phua, Jeffrey Lipman, Jacobus P.J. Ungerer

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background Pyroglutamic acid (PGA) is challenging to quantify in plasma and is a rare cause of metabolic acidosis that is associated with inherited disorders or acquired after exposure to drugs. Method We developed a hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method with a short analysis time. We established a reference interval and then measured PGA in acutely ill patients to investigate associations with clinical, pharmaceutical and laboratory parameters. Results The assay limit of the blank was 0.14 μmol/L and was linear to 5000 μmol/L with good precision. In-source formation of PGA from glutamate and glutamine was avoided by chromatographic separation. The PGA in controls had a reference interval of 22.6 to 47.8 μmol/L. The median PGA concentration in acutely ill patients was similar (P = 0.21), but 18 individuals were above the reference interval with concentrations up to 250 μmol/L. We detected an association between PGA concentration and antibiotic and acetaminophen administration as well as renal impairment and severity of illness. Elevations of PGA in this unselected cohort were small compared to those reported in patients with pyroglutamic acidosis. Conclusion The method is suitable for routine clinical use. We confirmed several expected associations with PGA in an acutely ill population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-77
Number of pages6
JournalClinica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Anion gap
  • Hydrophilic interaction chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Oxoproline
  • Pyroglutamate

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