Comparison of Molecular Species Distribution of DHA-Containing Triacylglycerols in Milk and Different Infant Formulas by Liquid Chromatography Mass-Spectrometry Academic Article uri icon


  • Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) are an important nutritional lipid and have potential in being able to promote human health. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6ω3) is often added in infant formulas to meet the nutritional requirement of formula-fed infants. A comprehensive survey on DHA-containing triacylglycerol (DHA-TAG) molecular species has been conducted for seven infant formulas (IFs) sourced from Australia, Europe, and the USA as well as bovine milk and human milk. Using LC-triple quadrupole MS and LC-LTQ-orbitrap MS we were able to identify and quantify 56 DHA-TAG species in these samples; the fatty acid structure of these species was assigned using their MS(2) spectra. The species composition of DHA-TAG was found to be different between bovine milk, human milk, and IFs and also between different brands of IFs. Bovine milk and human milk contain DHA-TAG of smaller molecular size (728-952 Da), whereas five out of the seven IF samples contain species of broader mass range (from 728 to 1035 Da). Our study indicates that two types of DHA were used in the seven IF products surveyed and that there is very large difference in molecular species distribution in different IF products that may influence the fine nutritional profile and biological functions of IF products.

publication date

  • 2016