Sphingolipid analysis by high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS)

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010;688:46-59. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-6741-1_3.


Sphingolipid (SPL) metabolism (Fig. 1) serves a key role in the complex mechanisms regulating cellular stress responses to environment. Several SPL metabolites, especially ceramide (Cer), sphingosine (Sph) and sphingosinel-phosphate (S1P) act as key bioactive molecules governing cell growth and programmed cell death (Fig. 2). Perturbations in sphingolipids of one type may enhance or interfere with the action of another. To monitor changes in SPL composition therefore, reliable analytical methods are necessary. Here we present the liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) approach for simultaneous qualitative and quantitative monitoring of SPL components (classes and molecular species) in biological material as an effective tool to study sphingolipid signaling events. The LC-MS/MS methodology is the only available technique that provides high specificity and sensitivity, along with a wealth of structural identification information.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / standards
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Reference Standards
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods
  • Sphingolipids / analysis*
  • Sphingolipids / chemistry
  • Sphingolipids / standards
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / standards


  • Sphingolipids