Product ion spectra produced by collision-induced dissociation (CID) in tandem mass spectrometry experiments can differ markedly between instruments. There have been a number of attempts to standardise the production of product ion spectra; however, a consensus on the most appropriate approach to the reproducible production of spectra has yet to be reached. We have previously reported the comparison of product ion spectra on a number of different types of instruments – a triple quadrupole, two ion traps and a Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer (Bristow AWT, Webb KS, Lubben AT, Halket JM. Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2004; 18: 1). The study showed that a high degree of reproducibility was achievable. The goal of this study was to improve the comparability and reproducibility of CID product ion mass spectra produced in different laboratories and using different instruments. This was carried out experimentally by defining a spectral calibration point on each mass spectrometer for product ion formation. The long-term goal is the development of a universal (instrument independent) product ion mass spectral library for the identification of unknowns.
The spectra of 48 compounds have been recorded on eleven mass spectrometers: six ion traps, two triple quadrupoles, a hybrid triple quadrupole, and two quadrupole time-of-flight instruments. Initially, 4371 spectral comparisons were carried out using the data from eleven instruments and the degree of reproducibility was evaluated. A blind trial has also been carried out to assess the reproducibility of spectra obtained during LC/MS/MS.
The results suggest a degree of reproducibility across all instrument types using the tuning point technique. The reproducibility of the product ion spectra is increased when comparing the tandem in time type instruments and the tandem in space instruments as two separate groups. This may allow the production of a more limited, yet useful, screening library for LC/MS/MS identification using instruments of the same type from different manufacturers.