Electrospray ionization with low-energy collisionally activated dissociation tandem mass spectrometry of glycerophospholipids: mechanisms of fragmentation and structural characterization

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2009 Sep 15;877(26):2673-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2009.02.033. Epub 2009 Feb 21.


This review describes the use of low-energy collisionally activated dissociation (CAD) with both tandem quadrupole and ion-trap mass spectrometry toward structural characterization of glycerophospholipids (GPLs), including classes of glycerophosphocholine, glycerophosphoethanolamine, glycerophosphoserine, glycerophosphoglycerol glycerophosphoinositol and glycerophosphatidic acid, as well as their lyso-, plasmanyl-, and plasmenylphospholipid subclasses. The mechanisms underlying the fragmentation processes leading to structural characterization of GPLs in various ion forms desorbed by electrospray ionization in the positive-ion and negative-ion modes are also discussed. The tandem mass spectrometric approaches afford the identification of the polar head group, the fatty acid substituents and the location of the radyl groups on the glycerol backbone of all the GPLs.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glycerophospholipids / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Glycerophospholipids