The tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle is an interface among glycolysis, lipid metabolism, and amino acid metabolism. Increasing interest in cancer metabolism has created a demand for rapid and sensitive methods for quantifying the TCA cycle intermediates and related organic acids. We have developed a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method to quantify the TCA cycle intermediates in a 96-well format after O-benzylhydroxylamine (O-BHA) derivatization under aqueous conditions. This method was validated for quantitation of all common TCA cycle intermediates with good sensitivity, including alpha-ketoglutarate, malate, fumarate, succinate, 2-hydroxyglutarate, citrate, oxaloacetate, pyruvate, isocitrate, and lactate using a 8-min run time in cancer cells and tissues. The method was used to detect and quantify changes in metabolite levels in cancer cells and tumor tissues treated with a pharmacological inhibitor of nicotinamide phosphoribosyl transferase (NAMPT). This method is rapid, sensitive, and reproducible, and it can be used to assess metabolic changes in cancer cells and tumor samples.
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