Glycosphingolipids (GSL) represent a highly heterogeneous class of lipids with many cellular functions, implicated in a wide spectrum of human diseases. Their isolation, detection, and comprehensive structural analysis is a challenging task due to the structural diversity of GSL molecules. In this work, GSL subclasses are isolated from human plasma using an optimized monophasic ethanol–water solvent system capable to recover a broad range of GSL species. Obtained deproteinized plasma is subsequently purified and concentrated by C18-based solid-phase extraction (SPE). The hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) coupled to electrospray ionization linear ion trap tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-LIT-MS/MS) is used for GSL analysis in the human plasma extract. Our results provide an in-depth profiling and structural characterization of glycosphingolipid and some phospholipid subclasses identified in the human plasma based on their retention times and the interpretation of tandem mass spectra. The structural composition of particular lipid species is readily characterized based on the detailed interpretation of MS and MS/MS spectra and further confirmed by specific fragmentation behavior following predictable patterns, which yields to the unambiguous identification of 154 GSL species within 7 lipid subclasses and 77 phospholipids representing the highest number of GSL species ever reported in the human plasma. The developed HILIC-ESI-MS/MS method can be used for further clinical and biological research of GSL in the human blood or other biological samples.
glycosphingolipids; lipidomics; mass spectrometry; hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography; human plasma; lipid profile; sample preparation; fragmentation behavior
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