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Retention Time Prediction Improves Identification in Nontargeted Lipidomics Approaches

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posted on 2015-08-04, 00:00 authored by Fabian Aicheler, Jia Li, Miriam Hoene, Rainer Lehmann, Guowang Xu, Oliver Kohlbacher
Identification of lipids in nontargeted lipidomics based on liquid-chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) is still a major issue. While both accurate mass and fragment spectra contain valuable information, retention time (tR) information can be used to augment this data. We present a retention time model based on machine learning approaches which enables an improved assignment of lipid structures and automated annotation of lipidomics data. In contrast to common approaches we used a complex mixture of 201 lipids originating from fat tissue instead of a standard mixture to train a support vector regression (SVR) model including molecular structural features. The cross-validated model achieves a correlation coefficient between predicted and experimental test sample retention times of r = 0.989. Combining our retention time model with identification via accurate mass search (AMS) of lipids against the comprehensive LIPID MAPS database, retention time filtering can significantly reduce the rate of false positives in complex data sets like adipose tissue extracts. In our case, filtering with retention time information removed more than half of the potential identifications, while retaining 95% of the correct identifications. Combination of high-precision retention time prediction and accurate mass can thus significantly narrow down the number of hypotheses to be assessed for lipid identification in complex lipid pattern like tissue profiles.