Development of a NanoLC-MS workflow for high-sensitivity global lipidomic analysis

Anal Chim Acta. 2020 Dec 1:1139:88-99. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2020.09.001. Epub 2020 Sep 9.


Lipidomics focuses on the comprehensive analysis of lipids and their interactions with other molecules. Many biological samples are available in small volumes or limited amounts and display very complex lipid compositions; thus, highly sensitive lipidomic analysis methods are often needed. NanoLC-MS offers extremely high sensitivity, although it is known to be technically more challenging than the conventional LC-MS approach, requiring greater care and maintenance. This work describes the development and optimization of a nanoLC-MS method for routine analysis of the lipidome of small volumes of biological samples. We focused on achieving robust conditions for high sensitivity analysis of complex samples. The nanoLC method, mass spectrometry conditions and sample preparation by liquid-liquid extraction of lipids were fully optimized using serum samples and deuterated lipid standards, including an evaluation of contamination sources. The performance of the method was assessed through the analysis of human and pig sera, as well as cerebrospinal fluid samples from pigs. This method allowed the detection of 9900 to 12,200 features by employing only 1.0-2.5 μL of serum samples and identification of 5842 lipids from 36 subclasses within a 50-min gradient. The method can be easily adapted to other types of biological samples where only limited volumes are available.

Keywords: Biological samples; Lipidomics; Mass spectrometry; Sensitivity; nanoLC.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Lipidomics*
  • Lipids*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Swine
  • Workflow


  • Lipids