Author(s): Beate Fuchs, Sss R, Schiller J
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Although matrix-assisted laser desorption and ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry (MS) – often but not exclusively coupled with a time-of-flight (TOF) mass analyzer – is primarily established in the protein field, there is increasing evidence that MALDI MS is also very useful in lipid research: MALDI MS is fast, sensitive, tolerates sample impurities to a relatively high extent and provides very simple mass spectra without major fragmentation of the analyte. Additionally, MALDI MS devices originally purchased for “proteomics” can be used also for lipids without the need of major system alterations.
After a short introduction into the method and the related ion-forming process, the MALDI mass spectrometric characteristics of the individual lipid (ranging from completely apolar hydrocarbons to complex glycolipids with the focus on glycerophospholipids) classes will be discussed and the progress achieved in the last years emphasized. Special attention will be paid to quantitative aspects of MALDI MS because this is normally considered to be the “weak” point of the method, particularly if complex lipid mixtures are to be analyzed. Although the detailed role of the matrix is not yet completely clear, it will be also explicitly shown that the careful choice of the matrix is crucial in order to be able to detect all compounds of interest.
Two rather recent developments will be highlighted: “Imaging” MS is nowadays widely established and significant interest is paid in this context to the analysis of lipids because lipids ionize particularly well and are, thus, more sensitively detectable in tissue slices than other biomolecules such as proteins. It will also be shown that MALDI MS can be very easily combined with thin-layer chromatography (TLC) allowing the spatially-resolved screening of the entire TLC plate and the detection of lipids with a higher sensitivity than common staining protocols.
This article was published in Prog Lipid Res
and referenced in Journal of Glycomics & Lipidomics