Document Type



General Education

Journal Title

Journal of Lipid Research

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Journal Article URL

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


MS-assisted lipidomic tissue analysis is a valuable tool to assess sphingolipid metabolism dysfunction in disease. These analyses can reveal potential pharmacological targets or direct mechanistic studies to better understand the molecular underpinnings and influence of sphingolipid metabolism alterations on disease etiology. But procuring sufficient human tissues for adequately powered studies can be challenging. Therefore, biorepositories, which hold large collections of cryopreserved human tissues, are an ideal retrospective source of specimens. However, this resource has been vastly underutilized by lipid biologists, as the components of OCT compound used in cryopreservation are incompatible with MS analyses. Here, we report results indicating that OCT compound also interferes with protein quantification assays, and that the presence of OCT compound impacts the quantification of extracted sphingolipids by LC-ESI-MS/MS. We developed and validated a simple and inexpensive method that removes OCT compound from OCT compound-embedded tissues. Our results indicate that removal of OCT compound from cryopreserved tissues does not significantly affect the accuracy of sphingolipid measurements with LC-ESI-MS/MS. We used the validated method to analyze sphingolipid alterations in tumors compared with normal adjacent uninvolved lung tissues from individuals with lung cancer and to determine the long-term stability of sphingolipids in OCT compound-cryopreserved normal lung tissues. We show that lung cancer tumors have significantly altered sphingolipid profiles and that sphingolipids are stable for up to 16 years in OCT compound-cryopreserved normal lung tissues. This validated sphingolipidomic OCT compound-removal protocol should be a valuable addition to the lipid biologist's toolbox.

Keywords: biorepository; cancer, ceramide; lipidomics; lung adenocarcinoma; lung squamous cell carcinoma; mass spectrometry; non-small cell lung cancer.