J. Neurochem. (2010) 115, 1322–1336.
Lipids, particularly phospholipids, are fundamental to CNS tissue architecture and function. Endogenous polyunsaturated fatty acid chains of phospholipids possess cis-double bonds each separated by one methylene group. These phospholipids are very susceptible to free-radical attack and oxidative modifications. A combination of analytical methods including different versions of chromatography and mass spectrometry allows detailed information to be obtained on the content and distribution of lipids and their oxidation products thus constituting the newly emerging field of oxidative lipidomics. It is becoming evident that specific oxidative modifications of lipids are critical to a number of cellular functions, disease states and responses to oxidative stresses. Oxidative lipidomics is beginning to provide new mechanistic insights into traumatic brain injury which may have significant translational potential for development of therapies in acute CNS insults. In particular, selective oxidation of a mitochondria-specific phospholipid, cardiolipin, has been associated with the initiation and progression of apoptosis in injured neurons thus indicating new drug discovery targets. Furthermore, imaging mass-spectrometry represents an exciting new opportunity for correlating maps of lipid profiles and their oxidation products with structure and neuropathology. This review is focused on these most recent advancements in the field of lipidomics and oxidative lipidomics based on the applications of mass spectrometry and imaging mass spectrometry as they relate to studies of phospholipids in traumatic brain injury.