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Metabolites. 2012 Feb 2;2(1):134-64. doi: 10.3390/metabo2010134.

Lipidomics of glycosphingolipids.

Author information

1
Life and Medical Sciences Institute (LiMES), Membrane Biology and Lipid Biochemistry Unit, c/o Kekulé-Institut für Organische Chemie und Biochemie, University of Bonn, Gerhard-Domagk Str. 1, D-53121 Bonn, Germany. hany.farwanah@uni-bonn.de.
2
Life and Medical Sciences Institute (LiMES), Membrane Biology and Lipid Biochemistry Unit, c/o Kekulé-Institut für Organische Chemie und Biochemie, University of Bonn, Gerhard-Domagk Str. 1, D-53121 Bonn, Germany. tkolter@uni-bonn.de.

Abstract

Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) contain one or more sugars that are attached to a sphingolipid moiety, usually to a ceramide, but in rare cases also to a sphingoid base. A large structural heterogeneity results from differences in number, identity, linkage, and anomeric configuration of the carbohydrate residues, and also from structural differences within the hydrophobic part. GSLs form complex cell-type specific patterns, which change with the species, the cellular differentiation state, viral transformation, ontogenesis, and oncogenesis. Although GSL structures can be assigned to only a few series with a common carbohydrate core, their structural variety and the complex pattern are challenges for their elucidation and quantification by mass spectrometric techniques. We present a general overview of the application of lipidomics for GSL determination. This includes analytical procedures and instrumentation together with recent correlations of GSL molecular species with human diseases. Difficulties such as the structural complexity and the lack of standard substances for complex GSLs are discussed.

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