In this work, a lipidomics workflow based on offline semi-preparative lipid class-specific fractionation by supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) followed by high-resolution mass spectrometry was introduced. The powerful SFC approach offered separation of a wide polarity range for lipids, enabled enrichment (up to 3 orders of magnitude) of lipids, selective fractionation of 14 lipid classes/subclasses, and increased dynamic range enabling in-depth characterization. A significantly increased coverage of low abundant lipids improving lipid identification by numbers and degree (species and molecular level) was obtained in Pichia pastoris when comparing high-resolution mass spectrometry based lipidomics with and without prior fractionation. Proof-of-principle experiments using a standard reference material (SRM 1950, NIST) for human plasma showed that the proposed strategy enabled quantitative lipidomics. Indeed, for 70 lipids, the consensus values available for this sample could be met. Thus, the novel workflow is ideally suited for lipid class-specific purification/isolation from milligram amounts of sample while not compromising on omics type of analysis (identification and quantification). Finally, compared with established fractionation/pre-concentration approaches, semi-preparative SFC is superior in terms of versatility, as it involved only volatile modifiers and salt additives facilitating any follow-up use such as qualitative or quantitate analysis or further purification down to the single lipid species level. Graphical Abstract.
Keywords: Human plasma; Lipid fractionation; Lipidomics; Pichia pastoris; Preparative supercritical fluid chromatography; SRM 1950.