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J Lipid Res. 2010 Aug;51(8):2428-34. doi: 10.1194/jlr.D003798. Epub 2010 May 5.

A rapid separation technique for overcoming suppression of triacylglycerols by phosphatidylcholine using MALDI-TOF MS.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA.


Phospholipids and triacylglycerols (TAGs) are important classes of lipids in biological systems. Rapid methods have been developed for their characterization in crude samples, including MALDI time-of-flight MS. For mixtures, MALDI often selectively shows only some components. For example, phosphatidylcholine (PC) suppresses detection of other lipids. Most rapid MS methods detect either TAGs or phospholipids but not both. Herein, we demonstrate a simple approach to rapidly screen mixtures containing multiple lipid classes. To validate this approach, reference lipids [PC, tripalmitin (PPP), and phosphatidyl-ethanolamine (PE)] and real samples (beef, egg yolk) were used. In a binary mixture with a strong suppressor (PC), PPP was greatly suppressed. After a simple separation, suppression was virtually eliminated. A mixture of nominally nonsuppressing lipids (PE and PPP) was not adversely affected by separation. Ground beef and egg yolk were used to demonstrate detection of known lipid compositions where other methods have missed one or more lipids or lipid classes. Separation was performed using solid phase extraction with a PrepSep florisil column. A 10 min separation allows rapid screening for lipids and changes in lipids. It is sufficient to clearly detect all lipids and overcome suppression effects in complex lipid mixtures.

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