Electrospray ionization (ESI) tandem mass spectrometry (MS) has simplified analysis of phospholipid mixtures, and, in negative ion mode, permits structural identification of picomole amounts of phospholipid species. Collisionally activated dissociation (CAD) of phospholipid anions yields negative ion tandem mass spectra that contain fragment ions representing the fatty acid substituents as carboxylate anions. Glycerophosphocholine (GPC) lipids contain a quaternary nitrogen moiety and more readily form cationic adducts than anionic species, and positive ion tandem mass spectra of protonated GPC species contain no abundant ions that identify fatty acid substituents. We report here that lithiated adducts of GPC species are readily formed by adding lithium hydroxide to the solution in which phospholipid mixtures are infused into the ESI source. CAD of [MLi+] ions of GPC species yields tandem mass spectra that contain prominent ions representing losses of the fatty acid substituents. These ions and their relative abundances can be used to assign the identities and positions of the fatty acid substituents of GPC species. Tandem mass spectrometric scans monitoring neutral losses of the head-group or of fatty acid substituents from lithiated adducts can be used to identify GPC species in tissue phospholipid mixtures. Similar scans monitoring parents of specific product ions can also be used to identify the fatty acid substituents of GPC species, and this facilitates identification of distinct isobaric contributors to ions observed in the ESI/MS total ion current.
|Number of pages
|Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
|Published - 1998