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Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017 Jun 1;2(1):123-132. doi: 10.1089/can.2017.0019. eCollection 2017.

Identification of a Widespread Palmitoylethanolamide Contamination in Standard Laboratory Glassware.

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Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy.
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine, California.
Department of Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry, University of California, Irvine, California.
Division of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California Riverside, Riverside, California.


Introduction: Fatty acid ethanolamides (FAEs) are a family of lipid mediators that participate in a host of biological functions. Procedures for the quantitative analysis of FAEs include organic solvent extraction from biological matrices (e.g., blood), followed by purification and subsequent quantitation by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS) or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. During the validation process of a new method for LC/MS analysis of FAEs in biological samples, we observed unusually high levels of the FAE, palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), in blank samples that did not contain any biological material. Materials and Methods: We investigated a possible source of this PEA artifact via liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry, as well as accurate mass analysis. Results: We found that high levels of a contaminant indistinguishable from PEA is present in new 5.75″ glass Pasteur pipettes, which are routinely used by laboratories to carry out lipid extractions. This artifact might account for discrepancies found in the literature regarding PEA levels in human blood serum and other tissues. Conclusions: It is recommended to take into account this pitfall by analyzing potential contamination of the disposable glassware during the validation process of any method used for analysis of FAEs.


LC/MS; contamination; fatty acid ethanolamides; glass Pasteur pipettes; palmitoylethanolamide; sample preparation

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