Metabolomics Core

This Core provides rigorous mass spectrometry analyses to Diabetes Research Center (DRC) investigators that include quantification as well as structural characterization of diabetes-related biomolecules. The Core increases efficiency and cost effectiveness by providing centralized, standardized analyses to study molecular mechanisms of the pathogenesis of diabetes, its risk factors, and its complications. A major goal of the Core is to promote use of mass spectrometry methods in diabetes research by efforts in training, collaboration, development, service, and dissemination.

Specific objectives of the Core are

Xuntian Jiang, PhD speaks with Daniel S. Ory, MD, (right) and Rohini Sidhu, (far left).
Xuntian Jiang, PhD speaks with Daniel S. Ory, MD, (right) and Rohini Sidhu, (far left).
  1. To provide and maintain functional mass spectrometry systems for diabetes-related studies;
  2. To consult with DRC investigators on application of mass spectrometry to advance their research programs;
  3. To perform service-related mass spectrometry analyses for diabetes investigators, such as quantifying target analytes, obtaining spectra for structural identification, and assisting with mass spectra interpretation;
  4. To develop new mass spectrometry methods; and
  5. To provide training to students and fellows in principles and use of mass spectrometry systems.


Xuntian Jiang, PhD, Associate Director of Metabolomics
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Lipid Research
660 S. Euclid Ave., MSC 8086-0004-10
St Louis, MO 63110
Phone 314-273-4679

David Scherrer, MS, Facility Manager
Department of Medicine
660 S. Euclid Ave., MSC  8127-0004-10
St Louis, MO 63110
Phone 314-273-4679


Targeted metabolomic analysis (GC/MS and LC-MS/MS)

We quantify low molecular weight organic biomolecules including fatty acids and related molecules; small organics; amino acids; carbohydrates; sterols, isoprenoids and polyols; glycerolipids; cardiolipins; sphingolipids; nucleosides and nucleotides; oxidative stress metabolites; and drug and natural product metabolites. In all, the core has expertise in routine characterization and quantification of >1400 small molecule metabolites (Table 1).

Targeted Metabolites Routinely Analyzed by DRC Metabolomics Core

ClassMetabolitesApprox #
Fatty acids & related moleculesFFA, eicosanoids, prostanoids, acyl-CoAs
Small organicsGlycolysis and TCA cycle intermediates, glycerol, ketones
Amino acidsNative and modified forms
CarbohydratesMono- and disaccharides
Sterols, isoprenoids & polyolsCholesterol, cholesterol intermediates, cholesteryl esters, phytosterols, oxysterols, polyols
GlycerolipidsPhospholipids (simple and complex), lysophospholipids,
mono-, di- and triglycerides
CardiolipinsAcyl chains C14 to C26
SphingolipidsSphingoid bases, ceramides, sphingomyelin, mono-, di- and trihexosylceramides, sulfatides, gangliosides
Nucleosides & nucleotidesUnmodified and modified
Oxidative stress metabolitesGSH, GSSG, 4-HNE, HEL and PRL, 4-nitrotyrosine
Drug and natural metabolitesMetformin, glyburide, NAD metabolites, etc.

Structural analysis and identification

The Core assists investigators in identifying unknown molecules from biological extracts by MS methods (ESI/MS/MSn) and interpreting mass spectra.

Validated assay development

The Core provides access to validated assays required for quantitative analysis of large sample sets from diabetes-related clinical studies and trials. We also develop FDA-compliant validated assays needed for measurement of analytes for clinical trials.

Qualitative flux analysis

Flux analysis is performed in vitro or in vivo using stable isotope-labeled tracers and LC-MS/MS to monitor isoptologue composition of targeted metabolites and enable tracking of metabolic flux through pathways.

Training of DRC investigators

The Core instructs DRC members and their laboratory personnel in the principles of various modes of MS and their applicability to analyses of biological samples and in the preparation of samples for MS analyses. Because MS analyses require specialized skills, it is more economical and practical for MSCL/Metabolomics staff to perform most analyses, but members of users’ laboratories are trained to perform some procedures, particularly if requirements are large and sustained.

Sample Submissions

Please complete the Request for Services Form and email to You will be contacted by the Facility Manager to arrange an intake meeting for discussion of goals of the project, analyses, anticipated completion schedule, and estimated cost.


The Washington University Mass Spectrometry Core Laboratory and the Metabolomics Facility operate as recharge centers with a current (FY22) rate of $117/hour rate for metabolomics and mass spectrometry services for Washington University investigators. For DRC investigators performing analyses through the Mass Spectrometry Core, the DRC budget covers part of the cost of analyses related to diabetes and metabolic disorders. This enables the Core to offer service to DRC members at a rate of $106/hour.

Helpful Links

NIGMS Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Resource

Washington University Metabolomics Facility

Midwest Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group