Anal Bioanal Chem. 2023 Oct 17. doi: 10.1007/s00216-023-04988-x. Online ahead of print.
Lipid oxidation in food products is a crucial problem that causes undesirable changes in the food’s flavor, texture, and nutritional value. It should be carefully monitored as it can lead to the formation of potentially toxic compounds and in that way reduce the shelf life of the product. Liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry is a powerful tool to monitor the formation of oxidized lipids. However, the presence of lipid species in both their non-oxidized and oxidized forms at distinctly different concentrations can hinder the detection and identification of the less abundant oxidized species, due to coelution. In this study, a flow injection mass spectrometry approach was used to selectively ionize oxidized triacylglycerols versus their non-oxidized precursors. Three mobile phase additives were investigated (ammonium formate, sodium acetate, and sodium iodide) at three different concentrations, and ion source settings (i.e., sheath gas temperature, capillary voltage, and nozzle voltage) were optimized. A fractional factorial design was conducted to examine not only the direct effect of the operating parameters on the selectivity of ionization for the oxidized lipid species, but also to assess their combined effect. Overall, selective ionization of oxidized versus non-oxidized lipid species was favored by the use of sodium-containing solvent additives. The application of specific ion source settings resulted in an increased ionization selectivity, with sheath gas temperature and capillary voltage having the most significant influence. A selectivity factor as high as 120 could be reached by combining 0.1 mg/mL sodium-containing additives, with 250 °C sheath gas temperature and 5000 V capillary voltage. These findings will contribute to future studies on fast detection and relative quantification of low abundant oxidized triacylglycerols and their possible impact on human health.