Rationale: Sphingolipids are important components of cell membranes that serve as cell signaling molecules; ceramide plays a central role in sphingolipid metabolism. De novo ceramide biosynthesis depends on fatty acid availability, but whether muscle uses circulating free fatty acids or pre-existing intracellular stores is unknown. Our goal was to develop a method to detect the incorporation of intravenously infused [U-(13)C]palmitate into intramyocellular ceramides.
Methods: We used liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) to measure the concentrations of different sphingolipid species and (13)C-isotopic enrichment of 16:0-ceramide. Chromatographic separation was performed using ultra-performance liquid chromatography. The analysis was performed on a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer using a positive ion electrospray ionization source with selected reaction monitoring (SRM).
Results: The sphingolipids ions, except enriched ceramide, were monitored as [M+2+H](+). The [(13)C(16)]16:0-ceramide was monitored as [M+16+H](+). By monitoring two different transitions of the [(13)C(16)]16:0-ceramide (554/536 and 554/264) we could indirectly measure enrichment of the palmitate that is not a part of the sphingoid base. Concentration and enrichment could be measured using 20 mg of muscle obtained from volunteers receiving a low dose [U-(13)C]palmitate infusion.
Conclusions: LC/MS/MS can be used to detect the incorporation of plasma palmitate into muscle ceramides in humans, in vivo.
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.