Systems Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 898 Views Sep 20, 2023

Dietary saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are upregulated in the blood circulation following digestion. A variety of circulating lipid species have been implicated in metabolic and inflammatory diseases; however, due to the extreme variability in serum or plasma lipid concentrations found in human studies, established reference ranges are still lacking, in addition to lipid specificity and diagnostic biomarkers. Mass spectrometry is widely used for identification of lipid species in the plasma, and there are many differences in sample extraction methods within the literature. We used ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled to a high-resolution hybrid triple quadrupole-time-of-flight (QToF) mass spectrometry (MS) to compare relative peak abundance of specific lipid species within the following lipid classes: free fatty acids (FFAs), triglycerides (TAGs), phosphatidylcholines (PCs), and sphingolipids (SGs), in the plasma of mice fed a standard chow (SC; low in SFAs) or ketogenic diet (KD; high in SFAs) for two weeks. In this protocol, we used Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and R to visualize how individual mice clustered together according to their diet, and we found that KD-fed mice displayed unique blood profiles for many lipid species identified within each lipid class compared to SC-fed mice. We conclude that two weeks of KD feeding is sufficient to significantly alter circulating lipids, with PCs being the most altered lipid class, followed by SGs, TAGs, and FFAs, including palmitic acid (PA) and PA-saturated lipids. This protocol is needed to advance knowledge on the impact that SFA-enriched diets have on concentrations of specific lipids in the blood that are known to be associated with metabolic and inflammatory diseases.

Key features

• Analysis of relative plasma lipid concentrations from mice on different diets using R.

• Lipidomics data collected via ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled to a high-resolution hybrid triple quadrupole-time-of-flight (QToF) mass spectrometry (MS).

• Allows for a comprehensive comparison of diet-dependent plasma lipid profiles, including a variety of specific lipid species within several different lipid classes.

• Accumulation of certain free fatty acids, phosphatidylcholines, triglycerides, and sphingolipids are associated with metabolic and inflammatory diseases, and plasma concentrations may be clinically useful.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 712 Views Jul 5, 2023

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a condition characterized by inflammation and hepatic injury/fibrosis caused by the accumulation of ectopic fats in the liver. Recent advances in lipidomics have allowed the identification and characterization of lipid species and have revealed signature patterns of various diseases. Here, we describe a lipidomics workflow to assess the lipid profiles of liver homogenates taken from a NASH mouse model. The protocol described below was used to extract and analyze the metabolites from the livers of mice with NASH by liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS); however, it can be applied to other tissue homogenate samples. Using this method, over 1,000 species of lipids from five classes can be analyzed in a single run on the LC-MS. Also, partial elucidation of the identity of neutral lipid (triacylglycerides and diacylglycerides) aliphatic chains can be performed with this simple LC-MS setup.

Key features

• Over 1,000 lipid species (sphingolipids, cholesteryl esters, neutral lipids, phospholipids, fatty acids) are analyzed in one run.

• Analysis of liver lipids in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) mouse model.

• Normal-phase chromatography coupled to a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer.

Graphical overview

Schematic procedure for the homogenization and extraction of mouse liver tissue in preparation for LC-MS analysis (Created with

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