A method for quantifying hepatic and intestinal ceramides on mice by UPLC-MS/MS

Kun Ge, Dan Zheng, Jieyi Wang, Wei Jia, Aihua Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Ceramide is one type of sphingolipids, is associated with the occurrence of metabolic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Dihydroceramide, the direct precursors of ceramide, which is converted to ceramide with the dihydroceramide desaturase, is recently regarded as involving in various biological processes and metabolic diseases. The liver and gut ceramide levels are interactional in pathophysiological condition, quantifying hepatic and intestinal ceramide levels become indispensable. The aim of this study is to establish a rapid method for the determination of ceramides including dihydroceramides in liver and small intestinal tissues for researching the mechanisms of ceramide related diseases.

Methods: The levels of Cer d18:1/2:0, Cer d18:1/6:0, Cer d18:1/12:0, Cer d18:1/14:0, Cer d18:1/16:0, Cer d18:1/17:0, Cer d18:1/18:0, Cer d18:1/20:0, Cer d18:1/22:0, Cer d18:1/24:1, Cer d18:1/24:0, dHCer d18:0/12:0, dHCer d18:0/14:0, dHCer d18:0/16:0, dHCer d18:0/18:0, dHCer d18:0/24:1 and dHCer d18:0/24:0 in mice liver and small intestine were directly quantified by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry after methanol extraction. In detail, liver or small intestine tissues were thoroughly homogenized with methanol. The resultant ceramides were separated on a Waters BEH C18 column using gradient elution within 10 min. Positive electrospray ionization with multiple reaction monitoring was applied to detect. In the end, the levels of ceramides in mice liver and small intestine tissues were quantified by this developed method.

Results: The limits of detection and quantification of 11 ceramides and 6 dihydroceramides were 0.01–0.5 ng/mL and 0.02–1 ng/mL, respectively, and all detected ceramides had good linearities (R2 > 0.997). The extraction recoveries of ceramides at three levels were within 82.32%–115.24% in the liver and within 83.21%–118.70% in the small intestine. The relative standard deviations of intra- and inter-day precision were all within 15%. The extracting solutions of the liver and small intestine could be stably stored in the autosampler 24 h at 10 °C, the lyophilized liver and small intestine for ceramides quantification could be stably stored at least 1 week at −80 °C. The ceramides and dihydroceramides in normal mice liver and small intestinal tissues analyzed by the developed method indicated that the detected 9 ceramide and 5 dihydroceramides levels were significantly different, in which Cer d18:1/16:0, Cer d18:1/22:0, Cer d18:1/24:1, Cer d18:1/24:0 and dHCer d18:0/24:1 are the main components in the liver, whereas Cer d18:1/16:0 and dHCer d18:0/16:0 accounts for the majority of proportion in the intestinal tissues.

Conclusion: A simple and rapid method for the quantification of 11 ceramides and 6 dihydroceramides in the animal tissues was developed and applied. The compositions of ceramides in two tissues suggested that the compositional features should to be considered when exploring the biomarkers or molecular mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114982
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Ceramide
  • Dihydroceramide
  • Liver
  • Small intestinal tissues


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