Targeted and non-targeted analysis of membrane lipids using mass spectrometry

Methods Cell Biol. 2012;108:149-72. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-386487-1.00008-0.


Mass spectrometry has gained popularity amongst cell biologists in recent years as a complementary tool to probe the metabolism and biological functions of lipids. Indeed, the technology offers unprecedented sensitivity, selectivity, and resolution to monitor lipids at the level of molecular species. This has led to further insights on how differences in fine chemical details of lipids may affect cellular processes. While different degrees of sophistication of mass spectrometric analysis exist and instruments are rapidly evolving, two general approaches, targeted and non-targeted, have been adopted by analysts. In this chapter, we describe these approaches and simple methods for rapid analyses of membrane lipids, which will serve as a starting point for future in-depth studies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Mass Spectrometry / standards
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry*
  • Membrane Lipids / isolation & purification
  • Molecular Weight
  • Reference Standards
  • Software


  • Membrane Lipids