Detection and characterization by mass spectrometry of radical adducts produced by linoleic acid oxidation

J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2003 Nov;14(11):1250-61. doi: 10.1016/s1044-0305(03)00538-5.


The formation of linoleic acid radical species under the oxidative conditions of the Fenton reaction (using hydrogen peroxide and Fe (II)) was monitored by FAB-MS and ES-MS using the spin trap 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrrolidine-N-oxide, DMPO. Both the FAB and ES mass spectra were very similar and showed the presence of ions corresponding to carbon- and oxygen centered spin adducts (DMPO/L*, DMPO/LO*, and DMPO/LOO*). Cyclic structures, formed between the DMPO oxygen and the neighboring carbon of the fatty acid, were also observed. Electrospray tandem mass spectrometry of these ions was performed to confirm the proposed structure of these adducts. All MS/MS spectra showed an ion at m/z 114, correspondent to the [DMPO + H]+, and a fragment ion due to loss of DMPO (loss of 113 Da), confirming that they are DMPO adducts. ES-MS/MS spectra of alkoxyl radical adducts (DMPO/LO*) showed an additional ion at m/z 130 [DMPO - O + H]+, while ES MS/MS of peroxyl radical adducts (DMPO/LOO*) showed a fragment ion at m/z 146 [DMPO - OO + H]+, confirming both structures. Other fragment ions were observed, such as alkyl acylium radical ions, formed by cleavage of the alkyl chain after loss of water and the DMPO molecule. The identification of fragment ions observed in the MS/MS spectra of the different DMPO adducts suggests the occurrence of structural isomers containing the DMPO moiety both at C9 and C13. The use of ES tandem mass spectrometry, associated with spin trapping experiments, has been shown to be a valuable tool for the structural characterization of carbon and oxygen-centered spin adducts of lipid radicals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Free Radicals / chemistry*
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Linoleic Acid / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Fast Atom Bombardment


  • Free Radicals
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Linoleic Acid