Understanding Plasma Lipidomics: An Introduction

The concept of the lipidome pertains to the exhaustive collection of lipids present within the confines of a cell, tissue, or organism. Correspondingly, the term "lipidomics" alludes to the systematic study of the lipidome. Lipids, in turn, play an indispensable part in various biological processes, such as energy storage, membrane structure, and cell signaling. Of note, the lipidome of plasma, the fluid component of blood, is of exceptional interest as it encompasses lipids sourced from diverse organs and tissues, thus rendering it an invaluable resource for the discovery of biomarkers.

In recent years, mass spectrometry-based lipidomics of human blood plasma has garnered substantial attention due to their potential for elucidating the underlying mechanisms of lipid-mediated disorders. In this article, we shall delve into the plasma lipidomic profile, its intricate analysis, and the various applications of lipidomics in biomedicine.

What is Plasma Lipidome?

The plasma lipidome, encompassing diverse types of lipids like phospholipids, sphingolipids, glycolipids, and neutral lipids, represents the complete assemblage of lipids present in the plasma. These lipids are procured from multifarious tissues and organs and are conveyed in lipoprotein particles such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). Perturbations in the plasma lipidome have been correlated with a slew of ailments, including but not limited to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

What is Lipidomics Used for?

Lipidomics has emerged as an immensely powerful tool in the domain of biomarker discovery, providing valuable insights into the lipid metabolism and signaling pathways in different diseases through the analysis of the plasma lipidome. Moreover, lipidomics can help decipher the effects of environmental factors and drugs on lipid metabolism.

  • Lipidomic applications have been broad-ranging, including but not limited to the following areas:
  • Metabolic Disorders: Lipidomic analysis has proved instrumental in identifying lipid biomarkers for several metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity, and dyslipidemia, enabling early detection and prognosis of these ailments.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Perturbations in the plasma lipidome have been linked to cardiovascular disease, underscoring the significance of lipidomics in discovering novel biomarkers for early diagnosis and treatment of this condition.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases: Lipidomic analysis has been harnessed to unravel the lipid metabolism in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, thus paving the way for novel therapeutic strategies.
  • Cancer: Lipidomics has also been a vital player in identifying lipid biomarkers for various types of cancer, which have the potential to facilitate early detection and treatment.

Is Serum or Plasma Better for Lipidomics?

In lipidomics research, two frequently utilized sample types are serum and plasma. Serum is obtained by clotting the blood, while plasma is obtained by anticoagulating the blood. Plasma is generally preferred over serum for lipidomic analysis as it comprises all lipids present in the blood, while serum may contain lipids released during the clotting process.

Additionally, plasma lipidomics offers certain advantages over serum lipidomics. Plasma is a more stable sample type that can be stored for an extended period without the risk of lipid degradation. Furthermore, smaller volumes of blood can be used to obtain plasma, making it a more feasible option for clinical applications.

Concentrations of lipid species reported for the NIST SRM 1950 reference plasmaConcentrations of lipid species reported for the NIST SRM 1950 reference plasma (Burla et al., 2018).

How to Do Lipidomics Analysis of Plasma?

Mass spectrometry-based lipidomics is the most commonly used method for the analysis of the plasma lipidome. The general workflow for lipidomic analysis of plasma involves the following steps:

Sample Preparation: Plasma is extracted from blood using an anticoagulant such as heparin. The extracted plasma is then subjected to lipid extraction to remove proteins and other non-lipid components.

Lipid Separation: The extracted lipids are then separated using various chromatography techniques such as liquid chromatography (LC) or gas chromatography (GC).

Mass Spectrometry Analysis: The separated lipids are then subjected to mass spectrometry analysis. Various mass spectrometry techniques such as matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI), electrospray ionization (ESI), or atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) can be used for the analysis of the plasma lipidome.

Data Analysis: The final step in lipidomic analysis involves data analysis. The mass spectrometry data is processed to identify and quantify the lipids present in the plasma lipidome. Various software tools such as LipidSearch and XCMS can be used for data analysis.

Metabolomics and lipidomics analysis of mice plasma samplesMetabolomics and lipidomics analysis of mice plasma samples (Xiang et al., 2021).

Creative Proteomics provides an extensive spectrum of services in the realm of mass spectrometry-based lipidomics of human blood plasma. Our experienced team of scientists delivers lipidomic analysis of plasma with an exceptional level of quality, consisting of sample preparation, lipid separation, mass spectrometry analysis, and data analysis, among others. If you are interested in acquiring further knowledge regarding our lipidomic analysis services, please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.


  1. Burla, Bo, et al. "Ms-based lipidomics of human blood plasma: A community-initiated position paper to develop accepted guidelines1." Journal of lipid research 59.10 (2018): 2001-2017.
  2. Xiang, Zhinan, et al. "Revealing hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic mechanism of Xiaokeyinshui extract combination on streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice in high sucrose/high fat diet by metabolomics and lipidomics." Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 135 (2021): 111219.

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