A fully validated GC-TOF-MS method for the quantification of fatty acids revealed alterations in the metabolic profile of fatty acids after smoking cessation

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2017 Jan 15;1041-1042:141-150. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2016.12.035. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


We developed and validated an efficient and robust method for the simultaneous quantification of 44 fatty acid species in human plasma via GC-TOF-MS. The method is characterized by its robustness, accuracy and precision covering a wide range of fatty acid species with various saturation degrees including short chain fatty acids (beginning with FA 4:0) and long chain fatty acids (up to FA 32:0). The fatty acids were methylated prior to analyses and subsequently detected as fatty acid methyl esters by means of GC-TOF-MS. A highly substituted polar column allowed the separation of geometrical and positional isomers of fatty acid species. The method was applied to plasma samples of a strictly diet controlled clinical smoking cessation study including 39 smokers followed over the course of three months after having quit. Statistical significant alterations within the fatty acid profile were observed when comparing the baseline (subjects still smoking) with one week, one month and three months of smoking cessation. After 3 months of smoking cessation, a partial recovery of alterations in the fatty acid profile evoked by smoking was observed. In conclusion, the developed fatty acid profiling method using GC-TOF-MS has proven as a reliable tool for the quantitative determination of 44 individual fatty acid species within clinical studies.

Keywords: Fatty acid profile; GC-TOF-MS; Human plasma; Metabolic profiling; Metabolomics; Smoking cessation.

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Limit of Detection
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Metabolome / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Smoking / metabolism*
  • Smoking Cessation*


  • Fatty Acids