Lipid research is attracting more and more attention as various key roles and novel biological functions of lipids have been demonstrated and discovered in the organism. Mass spectrometry (MS)-based lipidomics approaches are the most powerful and effective tools for analysis of cellular lipidomes with very high sensitivity and specificity. However, the artifacts generated from in-source fragmentation are always present in all kinds of ion sources, even soft ionization techniques (i.e., electrospray ionization and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization [MALDI]). These artifacts can cause many problems for lipidomics, especially when the fragment ions correspond to/are isomeric species of other endogenous lipid species in complex biological samples. These commonly observed artifacts could lead to misannotation, false identification, and consequently, incorrect attribution of phenotypes, and will have negative impact on any MS-based lipidomics research including but not limited to biomarker discovery, drug development, etc. Liquid chromatography-MS, shotgun lipidomics, and MALDI-MS imaging are three representative lipidomics approaches in which ion source-generated artifacts are all manifested and are comprehensively summarized in this article. The strategies on how to avoid/reduce the artifacts of in-source fragmentation on lipidomics analysis are also discussed in detail. We believe that with the recognition and avoidance of ion source-generated artifacts, MS-based lipidomics approaches will provide better accuracy on comprehensive analysis of biological samples and will make greater contribution to the research on metabolism and translational/precision medicine (collectively termed functional lipidomics).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)