Quantitative determination of esterified eicosanoids and related oxygenated metabolites after base hydrolysis

J Lipid Res. 2018 Dec;59(12):2436-2445. doi: 10.1194/jlr.D089516. Epub 2018 Oct 15.


Eicosanoids and related metabolites (oxylipins) possess potent signaling properties, elicit numerous important physiologic responses, and serve as biomarkers of disease. In addition to their presence in free form, a considerable portion of these bioactive lipids is esterified to complex lipids in cell membranes and plasma lipoproteins. We developed a rapid and sensitive method for the analysis of esterified oxylipins using alkaline hydrolysis to release them followed by ultra-performance LC coupled with mass spectrometric analysis. Detailed evaluation of the data revealed that several oxylipins are susceptible to alkaline-induced degradation. Nevertheless, of the 136 metabolites we examined, 56 were reproducibly recovered after alkaline hydrolysis. We classified those metabolites that were resistant to alkaline-induced degradation and applied this methodology to quantify metabolite levels in a macrophage cell model and in plasma of healthy subjects. After alkaline hydrolysis of lipids, 34 metabolites could be detected and quantified in resting and activated macrophages, and 38 metabolites were recovered from human plasma at levels that were substantially greater than in free form. By carefully selecting internal standards and taking the observed experimental limitations into account, we established a robust method that can be reliably employed for the measurement of esterified oxylipins in biological samples.

Keywords: lipidomics; mass spectrometry; oxidized lipids; oxylipins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Eicosanoids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Oxylipins / metabolism
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Eicosanoids
  • Oxylipins