The emerging field of sphingolipidomics calls for accurate quantitative analyses of sphingolipidome. Existing analytical methods for sphingolipid (SPL) profiling often suffer from isotopic/isomeric interference, leading to the low-abundance, but biologically important SPLs being undetected. In the current study, we have developed an improved sphingolipidomic approach for reliable and sensitive quantification of up to 10 subclasses of cellular SPLs. By integratively utilizing high efficiency chromatographic separation, quadrupole time-of-flight (Q-TOF) and triple quadrupole (QQQ) mass spectrometry (MS), our approach facilitated unambiguous identification of several groups of potentially important but low-abundance SPLs that are usually masked by isotopic/isomeric species and hence largely overlooked in many published methods. The methodology, which featured a modified sample preparation and optimized MS parameters, permitted the measurement of 86 individual SPLs in PC12 cells in a single run, demonstrating great potential for high throughput analysis. The improved characterization, along with increased sensitivity for low-abundance SPL species, resulted in the highest number of SPLs being quantified in a single run in PC12 cells. The improved method was fully validated and applied to a lipidomic study of PC12 cell samples with or without amyloid β peptide (Aβ) treatment, which presents a most precise and genuine sphingolipidomic profile of the PC12 cell line. The adoption of the metabolomics protocol, as described in this study, could avoid misidentification and bias in the measurement of the analytically challenging low-abundance endogenous SPLs, hence achieving informative and reliable sphingolipidomics data relevant to discovery of potential SPL biomarkers for Aβ-induced neurotoxicity and neurodegenerative disease.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Analytical Chemistry