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. 2018 Oct;59(10):2001-2017.
doi: 10.1194/jlr.S087163. Epub 2018 Aug 16.

MS-based Lipidomics of Human Blood Plasma: A Community-Initiated Position Paper to Develop Accepted Guidelines

Free PMC article

MS-based Lipidomics of Human Blood Plasma: A Community-Initiated Position Paper to Develop Accepted Guidelines

Bo Burla et al. J Lipid Res. .
Free PMC article


Human blood is a self-regenerating lipid-rich biological fluid that is routinely collected in hospital settings. The inventory of lipid molecules found in blood plasma (plasma lipidome) offers insights into individual metabolism and physiology in health and disease. Disturbances in the plasma lipidome also occur in conditions that are not directly linked to lipid metabolism; therefore, plasma lipidomics based on MS is an emerging tool in an array of clinical diagnostics and disease management. However, challenges exist in the translation of such lipidomic data to clinical applications. These relate to the reproducibility, accuracy, and precision of lipid quantitation, study design, sample handling, and data sharing. This position paper emerged from a workshop that initiated a community-led process to elaborate and define a set of generally accepted guidelines for quantitative MS-based lipidomics of blood plasma or serum, with harmonization of data acquired on different instrumentation platforms across independent laboratories as an ultimate goal. We hope that other fields may benefit from and follow such a precedent.

Keywords: National Institute of Standards and Technology Standard Reference Material 1950; absolute concentrations; clinical research; clinical trials; data sharing; diagnostic tools; lipids; mass spectrometry; quality control.


Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Concentrations of lipid species reported for the NIST SRM 1950 reference plasma. Each lipid species reported by at least three laboratories from the NIST SRM 1950 comparative plasma study (13) is indicated at its consensus concentration (median of means) as vertical dark lines within the shaded bars. Many of the shown species represent sums of species that can be further divided into more structurally resolved species, if analyzed with methods revealing higher structural information. The shaded boxes indicate the concentration range of the identified lipid species, illustrating that the actual number of lipid species and their concentration range are likely to be much larger in reality. The name of the highest abundant lipid species is displayed for each lipid class. The sum of the concentrations of individual lipid species of the lipid classes are indicated as vertical thick lines to the right of the shaded bars. Lipids measured in clinical chemistry laboratories are indicated at the top of the figure, with plasma or serum concentration ranges corresponding to clinical laboratory reference values in healthy adult people (139), except for triglycerides and total cholesterol (TC) where the 5th and 95th percentiles of the plasma concentrations in a large Dutch cohort are indicated (140). 1,25(OH)2D3, bioactive 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Human plasma lipidomics workflow. The major steps covered in this position paper are indicated together with important biographic parameters, sample preprocessing and analytical aspects, QC measures, and guidelines that should be considered and/or reported with quantitative plasma lipidomics datasets. HRMS, high-resolution MS.

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