Matrix-assisted laser desorption and ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry in lipid and phospholipid research

J Schiller, R Süss, J Arnhold, B Fuchs, J Lessig, M Müller, M Petković, H Spalteholz, O Zschörnig, K Arnold
Progress in Lipid Research 2004, 43 (5): 449-88
The interest in the analysis of lipids and phospholipids is continuously increasing due to the importance of these molecules in biochemistry (e.g. in the context of biomembranes and lipid second messengers) as well as in industry. Unfortunately, commonly used methods of lipid analysis are often time-consuming and tedious because they include previous separation and/or derivatization steps. With the development of "soft-ionization techniques" like electrospray ionization (ESI) or matrix-assisted laser desorption and ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF), mass spectrometry became also applicable to lipid analysis. The aim of this review is to summarize so far available experiences in MALDI-TOF mass spectrometric analysis of lipids. It will be shown that MALDI-TOF MS can be applied to all known lipid classes and the characteristics of individual lipids will be discussed. Additionally, some selected applications in medicine and biology, e.g. mixture analysis, cell and tissue analysis and the determination of enzyme activities will be described. Advantages and disadvantages of MALDI-TOF MS in comparison to other established lipid analysis methods will be also discussed.

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