Quantifying the amounts and types of lipids present in mixtures is important in fields as diverse as medicine, food science, and biochemistry. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy can quantify the total amounts of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in mixtures, but identifying the length of saturated fatty acid or the position of unsaturation by NMR is a daunting challenge. We have developed an NMR technique, aliphatic chain length by isotropic mixing, to address this problem. Using a selective total correlation spectroscopy technique to excite and transfer magnetization from a resolved resonance, we demonstrate that the time dependence of this transfer to another resolved site depends linearly on the number of aliphatic carbons separating the two sites. This technique is applied to complex natural mixtures allowing the identification and quantification of the constituent fatty acids. The method has been applied to whole adipocytes demonstrating that it will be of great use in studies of whole tissues.
- Food science
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