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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Nov;1811(11):776-83. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2011.06.019. Epub 2011 Jun 26.

Glycerolipid and cholesterol ester analyses in biological samples by mass spectrometry.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado, Denver, CO, USA.


Neutral lipids are a diverse family of hydrophobic biomolecules that have important roles in cellular biochemistry of all living species but have in common the property of charge neutrality. A large component of neutral lipids is the glycerolipids composed of triacylglycerols, diacylglycerols, and monoacylglycerols that can serve as cellular energy stores as well as signaling molecules. Another abundant lipid class in many cells is the cholesterol esters that are on one hand sterols and the other fatty acyl lipids, but in either case are neutral lipids involved in cholesterol homeostasis and transport in the blood. The analysis of these molecules in the context of lipidomics remains challenging because of their charge neutrality and the complex mixtures of molecular species present in cells. Various techniques have been used to ionize these neutral lipids prior to mass spectrometric analysis including electron ionization, atmospheric chemical ionization, electrospray ionization and matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization. Various approaches to deal with the complex mixture of molecular species have been developed including shotgun lipidomics and chromatographic-based separations such as gas chromatography, reversed phase liquid chromatography, and normal phase liquid chromatography. Several applications of these approaches are discussed. .

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