In this study, a clean-up approach using a two-dimensional liquid chromatography (2D-LC) consisting of a hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography column and a reversed phase column was investigated. A fully automated 2D-LC system was used and compared with a traditional quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) liquid chromatography (QuE-LC) method. The comparison was based on the results of a validation of selected analytes. It was investigated whether the detectability of analytes could be improved by the use of the 2D-LC. On the basis of these results, the relative detection rates were determined for every matrix. By means of those detection rates, the matrices were categorized regarding their complexity. Furthermore, the applicability of the 2D-LC was tested by participation in the European Proficiency Test in Fruits and Vegetables Screening Methods. In order to evaluate the separation and the elution profile of matrix components, multivariate data analysis was applied. For this purpose, ten matrices were processed in accordance to a QuEChERS protocol and the protocol for 2D-LC analysis. Moreover, the reagent blanks of the corresponding matrix were processed and analyzed by QuE-LC and 2D-LC. The results allowed evaluating the number of detected compounds for both methods. Additionally, the influence of compounds originating from reagent blanks can be estimated. In general, less compounds could be detected when 2D-LC was used. Especially, these were very polar compounds and compounds with m/z values >1500. These compounds seem to originate primarily from the used reagents especially from the citrate salts. However, the most of these compounds could be separated and were not detectable any more when 2D-LC was used. The results of the comparison based on validation and participation in the European Proficiency Test also show a better detectability for the most analytes with 2D-LC.
Keywords: 2D-LC HILIC Matrix fingerprinting Pesticides QuEChERS Two-dimensional liquid chromatography