Journal of mass spectrometry : JMS

Ultra performance liquid chromatography - mass spectrometry studies of formalin-induced alterations of human brain lipidome.

PMID 25303393


The development of 'omics' sciences offers new opportunities for the study of neurodegenerative diseases but increases at the same time the sample demand on brain banks that collect and store valuable human post-mortem tissue. Our study aims to evaluate in lipidomics the potential of formalin-fixed tissue compared with the cryopreservation method, considered as the gold standard for biochemical research. Two complementary liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analytical platforms were used on the basis of hybrid quadrupole time-of-flight and triple quadrupole mass spectrometers. Untargeted fingerprinting, semitargeted profiling of specific lipid classes and targeted monitoring of lipid species were performed in formalin-fixed and cryopreserved samples to provide detailed information at the molecular level on the formalin-induced alterations of the brain tissue. In vitro incubations of lipid standards were also performed to further describe the degradation processes induced by formaldehyde. Phospholipid compounds were found to be extensively hydrolysed, whilst the sphingolipid ones were preserved. N-methylation and N-formylation of amine-containing phospholipids have also been evidenced. These findings show that the potential detrimental effect of formalin on the analytes of interest must be taken into account when analysing formalin-fixed samples.