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Table 1 Characteristics of different BAs detection technologies [29, 30, 33, 37, 52, 53, 62, 63, 101, 104, 105]

From: Detection technologies and metabolic profiling of bile acids: a comprehensive review

Method Advantage Disadvantage
TLC Easy operation, low cost; without sample derivatization [30, 104]. Only applicable to qualitative analysis but not samples containing impurities, generally used to detect a mixture of BAs standard substances.
ESI-MS Without sample derivatization, qualitative analysis is allowed directly according to specific neutral or low-molecular-weight fragment ions [105]. Only applicable to qualitative analysis but not distinguishing of substances with the same parent or fragment ions (e.g. conformational isomers) [29].
HPLC High sensitivity and specificity, applicable to hardly volatile substances. Complicated sample treatment that requires derivatization to enhance the UV absorption of BAs, with the efficiency affecting detection results; long detection time that is unsuitable for a large number of samples [33].
GC-MS High degree of separation giving accurate molecular information, applicable to separation and quantification of mixtures of non-conjugated BAs [105]. Requirement of derivatization that converts conjugated BAs into non-conjugated ones to decrease boiling points, complicated treatment process that is unsuitable for a large number of samples [37].
LC-MS Short analysis time, low limit of quantification allowing separation of conformational isomers; simple sample treatment, without derivatization, automatic detection suitable for high-throughput analysis [52, 53]. High cost, complicated instrumental operation, mostly applicable to basic research but not clinical use.
Enzymatic method Routine clinical detection method of TBA, simple operation, low cost, reflecting the overall characteristics of TBA. Only applicable to C24-steroids containing C3-OH which, when substituted, causes detection failure; not applicable to low-content BAs [105].
ELISA Suitable for a specific BA. Low accuracy, proneness of antibodies to cross reactions with metabolites or matrices to produce false positive results [62].
NMR Mainly applicable to a certain type of BAs [63, 101]. Requirement of sample derivatization, complicated operation, failure to detection of a specific BA.