There is evidence from our current research on resistance to stibigluconate and from some previous observations that lipid composition may be altered in resistant Leishmania donovani and in order to explore this we required a comprehensive lipidomics method. Phospholipids can be analysed by direct infusion into a mass spectrometer and such methods can work very well. However, chromatographic methods can also be very effective and are extensively used. They potentially avoid ion suppression effects, associate lipid classes with a retention time range and deliver good quantitative accuracy. In the current study three chromatography columns were compared for their ability to separate different classes of lipid. Butylsilane (C-4), Zic-HILIC and a silica gel column were compared. The best results were obtained with a silica gel column used in hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC) mode with a mobile phase gradient consisting of (A) 20% isopropyl alcohol (IPA) in acetonitrile (v/v) and (B) 20% IPA in 0.02 M ammonium formate. Using these conditions separate peaks were obtained for triglycerides (TG), phosphoinositols (PI), inositol phosphoceramides (IPC), phosphatidylethanolamines (PE), phosphatidylserines (PS), phosphatidylcholines (PC), sphingosines (SG), lysophosphatidyethanolamines (LPE) and lysophosphatidylcholines (LPC). The methodology was applied to the analysis of lipid extracts from Leishmania donovani and by coupling the chromatography with an LTQ Orbitrap mass spectrometer. It was possible to detect 188 lipid species in the extracts with the following breakdown: PC 59, PE 38, TG 35, PI 20, CPI 13, LPC 11, LPE 2 and SG 10. The fatty acid composition of the more abundant lipids was characterised by MS(2) and MS(3) experiments carried out by using an LCQ Deca low-resolution ion trap instrument coupled with the silica gel column. The separation of lipids into well-defined groups gives extra confidence in their identification and minimises the risk of ion suppression effects. High-resolution mass spectrometry was necessary in order to be able to differentiate between acyl- and acyl-alkyl-lipids.
Copyright 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.