Analytical Considerations of Stable Isotope Labelling in Lipidomics

Biomolecules. 2018 Nov 16;8(4):151. doi: 10.3390/biom8040151.


Over the last two decades, lipids have come to be understood as far more than merely components of cellular membranes and forms of energy storage, and are now also being implicated to play important roles in a variety of diseases, with lipid biomarker research one of the most widespread applications of lipidomic techniques both in research and in clinical settings. Stable isotope labelling has become a staple technique in the analysis of small molecule metabolism and dynamics, as it is the only experimental setup by which biosynthesis, remodelling and degradation of biomolecules can be directly measured. Using state-of-the-art analytical technologies such as chromatography-coupled high resolution tandem mass spectrometry, the stable isotope label can be precisely localized and quantified within the biomolecules. The application of stable isotope labelling to lipidomics is however complicated by the diversity of lipids and the complexity of the necessary data analysis. This article discusses key experimental aspects of stable isotope labelling in the field of mass spectrometry-based lipidomics, summarizes current applications and provides an outlook on future developments and potential.

Keywords: flux analysis; lipidomics; mass spectrometry; stable isotope labelling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Lipids / genetics*
  • Lipids / isolation & purification
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipids