Correction of Isobaric Overlap Resulting from Sodiated Ions in Lipidomics

Anal Chem. 2020 Aug 18;92(16):10966-10970. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c02408. Epub 2020 Jul 30.


Lipidomic analyses aim for absolute quantification of lipid species profiles in biological samples. In past years, mass spectrometry (MS) methods based on high resolution accurate masses (HRAM) have increasingly been applied to identify and quantify lipid species on the MS level. This strategy requires consideration of isobaric overlaps which may also result from various adduct ions. Generally applied solvent additives favor the formation of protonated and ammoniated ions in positive ion mode, yet sodiated ions are also frequently observed. These sodiated ions interfere with protonated ions of the species of the same lipid class with two additional CH2 and three double bonds (Δm/z = 0.0025) and the first isotopic peak overlaps with ammoniated ions of a species with one additional CH2 and four double bonds (Δm/z = 0.0057). In this work, we present an algorithm based on the sodiated to protonated/ammoniated adduct ion ratios of applied internal standards to correct for these interferences. We could demonstrate that these ratios differ significantly between lipid classes but are affected by neither chain length nor number of double bonds within a lipid class. Finally, the algorithm is demonstrated for correcting human serum samples analyzed by Fourier-transform mass spectrometry (FTMS). Here, the application of sodium correction significantly reduced overestimations and misidentifications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Lipidomics / methods*
  • Lipidomics / statistics & numerical data
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Sodium / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / statistics & numerical data


  • Lipids
  • Sodium