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Methods Enzymol. 2007;432:1-20.

Qualitative analysis and quantitative assessment of changes in neutral glycerol lipid molecular species within cells.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Aurora, Colorado.


Triacylglycerols (TAGs) and diacylglycerols (DAGs) are present in cells as a complex mixture of molecular species that differ in the nature of the fatty acyl groups esterified to the glycerol backbone. In some cases, the molecular weights of these species are identical, confounding assignments of identity and quantity by molecular weight. Electrospray ionization results in the formation of [M+NH4]+ ions that can be collisionally activated to yield an abundant product ion corresponding to the loss of ammonia plus one of the fatty acyl groups as a free carboxylic acid. A method was developed using tandem mass spectrometry (MS) and neutral loss scanning to analyze the complex mixture of TAGs and DAGs present in cells and to quantitatively determine changes in TAGs and DAGs molecular species containing identical fatty acyl groups in an experimental series. Eighteen different deuterium-labeled internal standards were synthesized to serve to normalize the ion signal for each neutral loss scan. An example of the application of this method was in the quantitative analysis of TAG and DAG molecular species present in RAW 264.7 cells treated with a Toll-4 receptor ligand, Kdo2-lipid A, in a time course study.

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