An efficient single phase method for the extraction of plasma lipids

Zahir H. Alshehry, Christopher K. Barlow, Jacquelyn M. Weir, Youping Zhou, Malcolm J. McConville, Peter J. Meikle

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87 Citations (Scopus)


Lipidomic approaches are now widely used to investigate the relationship between lipid metabolism, health and disease. Large-scale lipidomics studies typically aim to quantify hundreds to thousands of lipid molecular species in a large number of samples. Consequently, high throughput methodology that can efficiently extract a wide range of lipids from biological samples is required. Current methods often rely on extraction in chloroform:methanol with or without two phase partitioning or other solvents, which are often incompatible with liquid chromatography electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC ESI-MS/MS). Here, we present a fast, simple extraction method that is suitable for high throughput LC ESI-MS/MS. Plasma (10 μL) was mixed with 100 μL 1-butanol:methanol (1:1 v/v) containing internal standards resulting in efficient extraction of all major lipid classes (including sterols, glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids and sphingolipids). Lipids were quantified using positive-ion mode LC ESI-MS/MS. The method showed high recovery (>90%) and reproducibility (%CV < 20%). It showed a strong correlation of all lipid measures with an established chloroform:methanol extraction method (R2 = 0.976). This method uses non-halogenated solvents, requires no drying or reconstitution steps and is suitable for large-scale LC ESI-MS/MS-based lipidomic analyses in research and clinical laboratories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-403
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 1-butanol/methanol extraction
  • Lipidomics
  • Mass spectrometry

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