Advances in mass spectrometry for lipidomics

Annu Rev Anal Chem (Palo Alto Calif). 2010;3:433-65. doi: 10.1146/annurev.anchem.111808.073705.


Recent expansion in research in the field of lipidomics has been driven by the development of new mass spectrometric tools and protocols for the identification and quantification of molecular lipids in complex matrices. Although there are similarities between the field of lipidomics and the allied field of mass spectrometry (e.g., proteomics), lipids present some unique advantages and challenges for mass spectrometric analysis. The application of electrospray ionization to crude lipid extracts without prior fractionation-the so-called shotgun approach-is one such example, as it has perhaps been more successfully applied in lipidomics than in any other discipline. Conversely, the diverse molecular structure of lipids means that collision-induced dissociation alone may be limited in providing unique descriptions of complex lipid structures, and the development of additional, complementary tools for ion activation and analysis is required to overcome these challenges. In this article, we discuss the state of the art in lipid mass spectrometry and highlight several areas in which current approaches are deficient and further innovation is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Glycolipids / chemistry
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Phospholipids / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Sphingolipids / chemistry


  • Fatty Acids
  • Glycolipids
  • Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Sphingolipids