Phosphatidylcholines and -ethanolamines can be easily mistaken in phospholipid mixtures: a negative ion MALDI-TOF MS study with 9-aminoacridine as matrix and egg yolk as selected example

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2009 Dec;395(8):2479-87. doi: 10.1007/s00216-009-3032-1.


Phospholipids (PL) are increasingly analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS). As in the case of polar molecules, however, the careful selection of the matrix is crucial for optimum results. 9-Aminoacridine (9-AA) was recently suggested as the matrix of choice to analyze PL mixtures because of (a) the improved sensitivity and (b) the reduction of suppression effects compared to other matrices. However, the distinction of phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) in the negative ion mode is obscured as PC is also detectable as -CH3+ ion if 9-AA is used as matrix. This may result in the erroneous assignment of PC as a PE species. Using an organic extract from hen egg yolk as example it will be shown that the contribution of PC must be taken into consideration if the negative ion mass spectra are used to evaluate the fatty acyl compositions of PE mixtures. 9-AA can as well be used in hyphenated thin-layer chromatography (TLC)-MALDI-TOF MS where PC and PE are chromatographically well separated for unequivocal assignments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aminacrine / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer / methods
  • Egg Yolk / chemistry*
  • Indicators and Reagents / chemistry
  • Phosphatidylcholines / analysis*
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines / analysis*
  • Phospholipids / chemistry*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines
  • Phospholipids
  • phosphatidylethanolamine
  • Aminacrine