Identification of oxidized phospholipids by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and LC-MS using a QQLIT instrument

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Phospholipids are complex and varied biomolecules that are susceptible to lipid peroxidation after attack by free radicals or electrophilic oxidants and can yield a large number of different oxidation products. There are many available methods for detecting phospholipid oxidation products, but also various limitations and problems. Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry allows the simultaneous but specific analysis of multiple species with good sensitivity and has a further advantage that it can be coupled to liquid chromatography for separation of oxidation products. Here, we explain the principles of oxidized phospholipid analysis by electrospray mass spectrometry and describe fragmentation routines for surveying the structural properties of the analytes, in particular precursor ion and neutral loss scanning. These allow targeted detection of phospholipid headgroups and identification of phospholipids containing hydroperoxides and chlorine, as well as the detection of some individual oxidation products by their specific fragmentation patterns. We describe instrument protocols for carrying out these survey routines on a QTrap5500 mass spectrometer and also for interfacing with reverse-phase liquid chromatography. The article highlights critical aspects of the analysis as well as some limitations of the methodology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2133-2149
Number of pages17
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number12
Early online date16 Sept 2011
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2011


  • phospholipid oxidation
  • chlorinated phospholipids
  • liquid chromatography
  • precursor ion scanning
  • neutral loss scanning
  • lipidomics
  • free radicals


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