Regiospecific analysis of neutral ether lipids by liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization/single quadrupole mass spectrometry: validation with synthetic compounds.J Mass Spectrom. 2001 Oct; 36(10):1116-24.JM
A reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method with on-line electrospray ionization/collision-induced dissociation/mass spectrometry (ESI/CID/MS) is presented for the regiospecific analysis of synthetic reference compounds of neutral ether lipids. The reference compounds were characterized by chromatographic retention times, full mass spectra, and fragmentation patterns as an aid to clarify the regiospecificity of ether lipids from natural sources. The results clearly show that single quadrupole mass spectroscopic analysis may elucidate the regiospecific structure of neutral ether lipids. Ether lipid reference compounds were characterized by five to six major ions in the positive ion mode. The 1-O-alkyl-sn-glycerols were analyzed as the diacetoyl derivative, and showed the [M - acetoyl](+) ion as an important diagnostic ion. The diagnostic ions of directly analyzed 1-O-alkyl-2-acyl-sn-glycerols and 1-O-alkyl-3-acyl-sn-glycerols were the [M - alkyl](+), [M + H - H(2)O](+) and [M + H](+) ions. Regiospecific characterization of the fatty acid position was evident from the relative ion intensities, as the sn-2 species had relatively high [M + H](+) ion intensities compared with [M + H - H(2)O](+), whereas the reverse situation characterized the sn-3 species. Furthermore, corresponding sn-2 and sn-3 species were separated by the chromatographic system. However, loss of water was promoted as fatty acid unsaturation was raised, which may complicate interpretation of the mass spectra. The diagnostic ions of directly analyzed 1-O-alkyl-2,3-diacyl-sn-glycerols were the [M - alkyl](+), [M - sn-2-acyl](+) and [M - sn-3-acyl](+) ions. Regiospecific characterization of the fatty acid identity and position was evident from the relative ion intensities, as fragmentation of the sn-2 fatty acids was preferred to the sn-3 fatty acids; however, loss of fatty acids was also promoted by higher degrees of unsaturation. Therefore, both structural and positional effects of the fatty acids affect the spectra of the neutral ether lipids. Fragmentation patterns and optimal capillary exit voltages are suggested for each neutral ether lipid class. The present study demonstrates that reversed-phase HPLC and positive ion ESI/CID/MS provide direct and unambiguous information about the configuration and identity of molecular species in neutral 1-O-alkyl-sn-glycerol classes.