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Mass Spectrometry


Mass spectrometry is a key part of our biomedical and clinical research. It is used for robust quantitative analysis by stable isotopic dilution analysis-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and related techniques.

This is performed with state-of-the-art LC-MS/MS instrumentation at WMS for focused analysis and also in collaboration with Warwick Life Sciences using high resolution mass spectrometry platforms.

It is the method of choice for sample analysis with high sensitivity and specificity – often providing reference estimates to which all other techniques are corroborated.

For more information on research that uses mass spectrometry:

Current Research

  • Studies of endogenous damage to proteins by oxidation, nitration and glycation in mechanisms of ageing and disease.

Leading international experience and expertise in quantifying oxidative and nitration damage in oxidative stress and advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) in dicarbonyl stress and hyperglycaemia. Important applications are studies of mechanisms of ageing, development and treatment of diabetes and its vascular complications, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, arthritis and multidrug resistance in cancer treatment.

  • Studies of lipoproteins and their modifications associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Leading international expertise in quantifying damaging modifications of low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL) linked to increased risk of atherosclerosis

  • Studies of amino acids and glycolytic intermediates in early-stage decline of metabolic and vascular health.

Expertise in comprehensive analysis of amino acids (amino acid metabolome) and glycolytic intermediates (glycolytic metabolome). Important applications are early stage detection of increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

  • Studies of dietary bioactive compounds derived from fruits and vegetables and associated health benefits.

Expertise in quantifying bioactive compounds derived from fruits and vegetables (glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, polyphenols, flavanols and others) and study of their health benefits.

Divisions and Units currently conducting research in this area

  • Metabolic and Vascular Health
  • Health Sciences
  • Reproductive Health
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing

Key projects and funding

Biomarkers of early-stage decline in metabolic and vascular health in ageing “health markers”

Programme funded by EU Framework programme 7 - BIOmarkers of Robustness of Metabolic Homeostasis for Nutrigenomics-derived Health CLAIMS Made on Food (BIOCLAIMS). Project team: Prof Paul J Thornalley and Dr Naila Rabbani Division of Metabolic and Vascular Health, with 10 other academic centres in the EU. Project duration: March 2010 - February 2015.

Development and evaluation of new functional foods for healthy ageing
Project funded by the Technology Strategy Board with Unilever on the “Nutrition for Life” programme. Project team: Prof Paul J Thornalley (PI), Dr Naila Rabbani and Prof Donald Singer, Division of Metabolic and Vascular Health and Dr Martin Weickert, University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire. Project duration: June 2012 and May 2015.

Dietary bioactive compounds derived from fruits and vegetables for goof metabolic and vascular health and healthy ageing

Projects funded by BBSRC in collaboration with Unilever analysing dietary bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables and studies of mechanisms of action to optimise health benefits. Project team: Prof Paul J Thornalley (PI) and Dr Naila Rabbani, Division of Metabolic and Vascular Health with Dr Guy Barker, Warwick Life Sciences and Prof David Rand, Warwick Systems Biology. Project duration: February 2010 – February 2014.


Issues addressed by the research:

  • Biomarkers – Biochemical surrogate indicators of decline in health and early-stage detection of disease development (healthy ageing, risk of development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, early-stage diagnosis of arthritis)
  • Mechanisms of disease – Development of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, renal disease and ageing
  • Disease prevention and treatment – novel treatments for diabetes and renal disease; and treatment monitoring and improvement in arthritis, psychiatric disorders and multidrug resistant tumours.
  • Healthy ageing - Development of novel functional foods to sustain healthy ageing

WMS-Based Instrumentation

WMS has access to a range of specialised instrumentation. For further details, see our Mass Spectrometry Platform.

Example publications of use

  • Rabbani, N., Godfrey, L., Xue, M., Shaheen, F., Geoffrion, M., Milne, R. and Thornalley, P.J. (2011) Glycation of LDL by Methylglyoxal Increases Arterial Atherogenicity. A Possible Contributor to Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Diabetes. Diabetes 60, 1973-1980
  • Bierhaus, A., Stoyanov, S., Fleming, T., Sauer, S.K., Leffler, A., Babes, A., Kichko, T.I., Neacsu, C., Konrade, I., Pirags, V., Lukic, I.K., Morcos, M., Dehmer, T., Rabbani, N., Thornalley, P.J., Edelstein, D., Nau, C., Forbes, J., Stern, D.M., Cooper, M.E, Humpert, P.M., Brownlee, M., Reeh, P. and Nawroth, P.P. (2012) Methylglyoxal modification of Nav1.8 facilitates nociceptive neuron firing and causes hyperalgesia in diabetic neuropathy. Nature Medicine 18, 926–933.
  • Ajjan, R.A., Gamlen, T., Standeven, K.F., Mughal, S., Hess, K., Smith, K.A., Dunn, E.J., Phoenix, F., Anwar, M.M., Rabbani, N., Thornalley, P.J., Philippou, H. and Grant, P.J. (2013) Fructosamine modified plasminogen alters plasminogen-fibrin interactions and the specific activity of plasmin to inhibit fibrinolysis. Blood 122, 134 – 142.

Associated academic staff

  • Judith Klein
  • Naila Rabbani
  • Stephen Royle
  • Karuna Sampath
  • Paul Thornalley

Related Links

Mass Spectrometry Analysis Unit

Protein Damage and Systems Biology Research Group

Contact Information

paul_thornalley.jpgPlease contact Professor Paul J Thornalley for collaboration and service arrangements.

Professor Paul J Thornalley
Email: P dot J dot Thornalley at warwick dot ac dot uk

Tel: 024 7696 8594
Fax: 024 7696 8653
Mobile: 078 8433 1407