Method development for fecal lipidomics profiling

Anal Chem. 2013 Jan 15;85(2):1114-23. doi: 10.1021/ac303011k. Epub 2012 Dec 26.


Robust methodologies for the analysis of fecal material will facilitate the understanding of gut (patho)physiology and its role in health and disease and will help improve care for individual patients, especially high-risk populations, such as premature infants. Because lipidomics offers a biologically and analytically attractive approach, we developed a simple, sensitive, and quantitatively precise method for profiling intact lipids in fecal material. The method utilizes two separate, complementary extraction chemistries, dichloromethane (DCM) and a methyl tert-butyl ether/hexafluoroisopropanol (MTBE) mixture, alone or with high pressure cycling. Extracts were assessed by liquid chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry-based profiling with all ion higher energy collisional dissociation fragmentation in both positive and negative ionization modes. This approach provides both class-specific and lipid-specific fragments, enhancing lipid characterization. Solvents preferentially extracted lipids based on hydrophobicity. More polar species preferred MTBE; more hydrophobic compounds preferred DCM. Pressure cycling differentially increased the yield of some lipids. The platform enabled analysis of >500 intact lipophilic species with over 300 lipids spanning 6 LIPID MAPS categories identified in the fecal matter from premature infants. No previous report exists that provides these data; thus, this study represents a new paradigm for assessing nutritional health, inflammation, and infectious disease in vulnerable populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Infant
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Methyl Ethers / chemistry
  • Methylene Chloride / chemistry
  • Propanols / chemistry


  • Lipids
  • Methyl Ethers
  • Propanols
  • methyl tert-butyl ether
  • hexafluoroisopropanol
  • Methylene Chloride