Journal of Lipid Research (Jan 2011)

High-temperature gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for skin surface lipids profiling[S]

  • Rime Michael-Jubeli,
  • Jean Bleton,
  • Arlette Baillet-Guffroy

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 52, no. 1
pp. 143 – 151


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Skin surface lipids (SSLs) arising from both sebaceous glands and skin removal form a complex lipid mixture composed of free fatty acids and neutral lipids. High-temperature gas chromatography coupled with electron impact or chemical ionization mass spectrometry was used to achieve a simple analytical protocol, without prior separation in classes and without prior cleavage of lipid molecules, in order to obtain simultaneously i) a qualitative characterization of the individual SSLs and ii) a quantitative evaluation of lipid classes. The method was first optimized with SSLs collected from the forehead of a volunteer. More than 200 compounds were identified in the same run. These compounds have been classified in five lipid classes: free fatty acids, hydrocarbons, waxes, sterols, and glycerides. The advantage to this method was it provided structural information on intact compounds, which is new for cholesteryl esters and glycerides, and to obtain detailed fingerprints of the major SSLs. These fingerprints were used to compare the SSL compositions from different body areas. The squalene/cholesterol ratio was used to determine the balance between sebaceous secretion and skin removal. This method could be of general interest in fields where complex lipid mixtures are involved.