Lipidomics: An Analysis of Cellular Lipids by ESI-MS

Methods. 2006 Jun;39(2):92-103. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2006.05.014.


Recognition of the importance of lipid signaling in cellular function has led to rapid progress in the technology of lipid analysis. Measurements of lipid species changes are central to defining the networks of cell signaling (e.g., receptor activation by hormones or drugs) and lipids are involved in many biochemical and pathological processes. During the last several years our laboratory has focused on developing efficient methods for extraction of glycerophospholipids from biological systems and their detection and identification by mass spectrometry. We analyze phospholipid changes in mammalian cells as a result of a defined ligand stimulation strategy that supports the research questions of the consortium. The improvement of mass spectrometry techniques for phospholipid analysis combined with sophisticated computational methods developed in our group has facilitated simultaneous analysis of hundreds of phospholipid species in mammalian cells. This information is presented as Lipid Arrays (or more precisely as virtual arrays) and allows identification of temporal changes in membrane phospholipid species between two contrasting biological conditions (e.g., unstimulated basal vs. stimulated or as a contrast between normal and disease stages). Using the lipidomics approach, we are able to identify approximately 450 phospholipid species from total membrane extracts and qualitatively measure pattern response changes initiated by cell surface receptors. As such, this approach facilitates the elucidation of the metabolic changes induced by a perturbation in the cell and recognition of patterns of signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biochemistry / methods
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Phospholipids / isolation & purification
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / instrumentation
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*


  • Lipids
  • Phospholipids