Analytical separations for lipids in complex, nonpolar lipidomes using differential mobility spectrometry



Publication Details

Hancock, S. E., Poad, B. L. J., Willcox, M. D. P., Blanksby, S. J. & Mitchell, T. W. (2019). Analytical separations for lipids in complex, nonpolar lipidomes using differential mobility spectrometry. Journal of Lipid Research, 60 (11), 1968-1978.


Secretions from meibomian glands located within the eyelid (commonly known as meibum) are rich in nonpolar lipid classes incorporating very-long (22–30 carbons) and ultra-long (>30 carbons) acyl chains. The complex nature of the meibum lipidome and its preponderance of neutral, nonpolar lipid classes presents an analytical challenge, with typically poor chromatographic resolution, even between different lipid classes. To address this challenge, we have deployed differential mobility spectrometry (DMS)-MS to interrogate the human meibum lipidome and demonstrate near-baseline resolution of the two major nonpolar classes contained therein, namely wax esters and cholesteryl esters. Within these two lipid classes, we describe ion mobility behavior that is associated with the length of their acyl chains and location of unsaturation. This capability was exploited to profile the molecular speciation within each class and thus extend meibum lipidome coverage. Intriguingly, structure-mobility relationships in these nonpolar lipids show similar trends and inflections to those previously reported for other physicochemical properties of lipids (e.g., melting point and phase-transition temperatures). Taken together, these data demonstrate that differential ion mobility provides a powerful orthoganol separation technology for the analysis of neutral lipids in complex matrices, such as meibum, and may further provide a means to predict physicochemical properties of lipids that could assist in inferring their biological function(s).

Grant Number

ARC/LP140100711, ARC/DP190101486, ARC/FT110100249

Grant Number


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