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May 15, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 10)

New MS Tools Advance Biomolecular Studies

Simpler, Cheaper, and Faster Instrumentation Facilitates Inclusion in Novel Applications

  • Oleic Acid and Cardiovascular Disease

    Huiling Liu, Ph.D., senior scientist at Agela Technologies, discussed the use of liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometry in the determination of oleic acid and its metabolites.

    Oleic acid is an omega-nine, mono-unsaturated fatty acid found principally in plants. It has been shown to slow the development of heart disease, and promotes the production of antioxidants. There is a convincing body of experimental data indicating that oleic acid has a profound capacity to reduce blood pressure.

    The major actor in this cascade may be the metabolite of oleic acid, 9,10-di-hydroxy stearic acid, which, acting as a double excitation reagent of endogenous peroxisome proliferation-activated receptors, could play a role in the prevention of atherosclerosis. In order to further understand the properties of these compounds, their pharmacokinetic performance has been monitored by determining their levels in plasma.

    “We developed a high-recovery method for extracting the compounds from the plasma,” said Dr. Liu. A rapid, simple and sensitive solid-phase extraction, high-performance liquid chromatographic separation and tandem mass spectrometric detection system was designed for the quantitation of oleic acid and DHSA at sub-pg/mL levels.

    Some recent studies suggest oleic acid incorporates into the cell membranes of blood vessels where it likely makes the cells more receptive to signals that reduce blood pressure. This is believed to occur through oleic acid’s cis configuration, which allows it to fit tightly into membranes. The mass spectrometry platforms designed by Dr. Liu and his collaborators will allow effective monitoring of oleic acid and its metabolites and aid in the understanding of how these substances offer protection from cardiovascular insult.

    MS technology continues to move forward with advances in instrumentation that are simpler, cheaper, and faster, opening up new applications. It is noteworthy that the “Pittcon” presentations profiled, offer insights into questions of basic and applied science that were either difficult to engage or beyond the easy reach of most investigators before this technology came on the scene. In addition to long-standing applications including metabolic and biochemical analyses, a new generation of instruments have allowed mass spec technology to branch into the disciplines of forensics, anthropology, and history.

  • Points to Consider

    • With improved instrumentation, mass spectrometry excels as a powerful technique to identify, quantify, and elucidate chemical substances.
    • MS technology continues to move forward with advances that are simpler, cheaper, and faster, opening up new applications.
    • In addition to long-standing applications including metabolic and biochemical analyses, a new generation of instruments have allowed MS technology to branch into the disciplines of forensics, anthropology, and history. 
    • The advanced technologies and their respective applications covered in this article include: coulometric array detection, high resolution mass spectrometry, DART (direct analysis in real time), comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GCxGC-TOFMS), and liquid chromatography electrospray ionization.


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