Phospholipid Analysis

Historically, phospholipid compositions have been determined by thin-layer chromatography of different classes followed by gas chromatography of fatty acids. Such traditional analysis provides no direct information about the individual molecular species compositions of phospholipids, which are the functional, biologically relevant molecules. For instance, a fatty acid analysis of a phospholipid mixture as 50% 16:0, 50% 18:1 could represent either 16:0/18:1 or an equivalent combination of 16:0/16:0 and 18:1/18:1, which all have very different physical and functional properties. A variety of techniques have been established to provide such information, including high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), nuclear magnetic resonance, and mass spectrometry. In this article, compositional data are provided in terms of individual molecular species largely determined by sensitive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) methodologies. (Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry is a soft ionization technique that resolves intact molecular ions with minimal fragment formation. Best known for proteomic analysis, when applied to lipid analysis ESI-MS provides direct, very sensitive analysis of molecular species composition with a high degree of resolution.)

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