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J Chromatogr. 1989 Jun 30;491(1):1-13.

Capillary column gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for the determination of the fatty acid composition of human adipose tissue.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolic Medicine, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.


A procedure for determining the fatty acid composition of human adipose tissue using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was developed. Adipose tissue was obtained from the lateral upper aspect of the right thigh by needle biopsy and prepared for analysis by lyophilisation, total lipid extraction and base-catalysed transesterification of the complexed fatty acids to form fatty acid methyl esters. Capillary column gas chromatography resolved thirty different peaks, ranging in carbon length from 12 to 24. Provisional identification of the peaks was by cochromatography with authentic standards and confirmed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry using electron-impact ionisation. Fatty acid methyl esters were quantified in absolute amounts with respect to dry tissue weight and as a percentage of the total fat. Statistical analysis of the results from twenty healthy subjects using the two-tailed unpaired Student's t-test demonstrated women had significantly higher levels of myristoleic and palmitoleic acids (p less than 0.001) and lower levels of palmitic acid (p less than 0.05) in adipose tissue when compared with the male group. Similarly total saturated fatty acids was lower (p less than 0.05) and total monounsaturated fatty acids was higher in women than in men.

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