Following in the wake of the genomic and proteomic revolutions new fields of "omics" research are emerging. The metabolome provides the natural complement to the genome and proteome, however, the extreme physicochemical diversity of the metabolome leads to a subdivision of metabolites into compounds soluble in aqueous solutions or those soluble in organic solvents. A complete molecular and quantitative investigation of the latter when isolated from tissue, fluid or cells constitutes lipidomics. Like proteomics, lipidomics is a subject which is both technology driven and technology driving, with the primary technologies being mass spectrometry, with or without on-line chromatography and computer-assisted data analysis. In this paper we will examine the underlying fundamentals of different lipidomic experimental approaches including the "shotgun" and "top-down" global approaches, and the more targeted liquid chromatography - or gas chromatography - mass spectrometry approaches. Application of these approaches to the identification of in-born errors of metabolism will be discussed.
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