High sensitivity quantitative lipidomics analysis of fatty acids in biological samples by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Nov;1811(11):648-56. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2011.07.006. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


Historically considered to be simple membrane components serving as structural elements and energy storing entities, fatty acids are now increasingly recognized as potent signaling molecules involved in many metabolic processes. Quantitative determination of fatty acids and exploration of fatty acid profiles have become common place in lipid analysis. We present here a reliable and sensitive method for comprehensive analysis of free fatty acids and fatty acid composition of complex lipids in biological material. The separation and quantitation of fatty acids are achieved by capillary gas chromatography. The analytical method uses pentafluorobenzyl bromide derivatization and negative chemical ionization gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The chromatographic procedure provides base line separation between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids of different chain lengths as well as between most positional isomers. Fatty acids are extracted in the presence of isotope-labeled internal standards for high quantitation accuracy. Mass spectrometer conditions are optimized for broad detection capacity and sensitivity capable of measuring trace amounts of fatty acids in complex biological samples. .

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analytic Sample Preparation Methods* / standards
  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / standards
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Reference Standards


  • Fatty Acids