Oxidative derivatives of cholesterol such as 22(R)-hydroxycholesterol, 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol, 25-hydroxycholesterol, and (25S),26-hydroxycholesterol are endogenous ligands for the liver X receptors (LXRα and LXRβ). The LXRs are nuclear hormone receptors known as "intracellular cholesterol sensors" because of their ability to bind to and be activated by oxysterols at circulating concentrations. Oxysterols are expressed in a tissue-specific manner and are generally at least 104 to 106-fold less abundant than cholesterol. Thus, the extraction and measurement of oxysterols from plasma and tissues are facilitated by the removal of bulk sterols by solid phase extraction prior to quantitative analysis by mass spectrometry. In this chapter we describe step by step methods for extracting and quantitating oxysterols from biological samples using electrospray ionization LC/MS/MS.
Keywords: 27-Hydroxycholesterol; Deuterated internal standards; LC/MS/MS; Liver X receptor; Nuclear receptors; Oxysterols.