Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry of cod liver oil and the effect of analyte/matrix concentration on signal intensities

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 1999;13(17):1762-9. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0231(19990915)13:17<1762::AID-RCM711>3.0.CO;2-8.


Cod liver oil (CLO) is known to contain a complex mixture of triacylglycerols (TAGs) in which the component fatty acids include: myristic (C(14:0), M), C(14:1) (M(1)), palmitic (C(16:0), P), palmitoleic (C(16:1), P(1)), stearic (C(18:0), S), oleic (C(18:1), O), linoleic (C(18:2), L), arachidic (C(20:0), A), C(20:1) (A(1)), eicosapentaenoic (EPA, C(20:5), A(5)), docosanoic (C(22:0), D), docosaenoic (C(22:1), D(1)), and docosahexaenoic (DHA, C(22:6), D(6)). Because of the presence of EPA and DHA in cod liver oil, it has been used for several generations as a nutritional supplement, and recommended for the relief of various physiological ailments including arthritis, depression, and high blood pressure. Consequently, it was of interest to develop a sample preparation protocol that would enable rapid screening of such a chemically complex and nutritionally useful oil. Thus, we have analyzed two commercial brands of cod liver oil by using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFMS). There was no significant difference between the mass spectral profile of the two CLO brands. alpha-Cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid, dissolved in acetonitrile/tetrahydrofuran, was used as the matrix. MALDI-TOFMS produced only sodiated triacylyglycerol molecules [M + Na](+). Based on the sodiated TAGs, 64 TAG assignments were made, and these include MM(1)L, MML, MMO and MMS, M(1)P(1)L MP(1)L, P(1)P(1)P, PPP, P(1)P(1)Ln, P(1)PLn, PPL, PPO, P(1)LnLn, PLnLN, PLLn, PLL, POL, POO, P(1)A(6)Ln, P(1)A(5)Ln, P(1)A(5)L, PA(5)L PA(5)O, PP(1)D(6), OOL, OOO, SOO, SSS, P(1)LnD(6), PLnD(6), PLD(6), POD(6) (or P(1)A(5)A(1)), PA(5)A(1), OLA, OLA(1), SLA(1), SOA(1), SSA, LA(5)A(5) (or P(1)A(5)D(6)), OA(5)A(5) (or PA(5)D(6)), SA(5)A(5), LnA(1)A(5), OOD(6), SOD(6), SSD(6), LA(1)D(6), OA(1)D(6), OA(5)D(6), SA(5)D(6), SA(5)D(5), D(6)A(1)O, D(6)A(1)S, D(1)A(1)O, DA(1)O, D(1)D(6)O, and DD(6)O. The sample preparation method developed in this study could be used for the routine screening of oils that contain similar types of polyunsaturated TAGs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cod Liver Oil / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods
  • Triglycerides / analysis


  • Fatty Acids
  • Triglycerides
  • Cod Liver Oil