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Combining Results of Two GC Separations Partly Achieves Determination of All cis and trans 16:1, 18:1, 18:2 and 18:3 Except CLA Isomers of Milk Fat as Demonstrated Using Ag-Ion SPE Fractionation

Kramer, John K. G., Hernandez, Marta, Cruz-Hernandez, Cristina, Kraft, Jana, Dugan, Michael E. R.
Lipids 2008 v.43 no.3 pp. 259-273
milk fat, fatty acid composition, monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, isomers
Milk fat is a complex mixture of geometric and positional isomers of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, including short-, long- and branch-chain fatty acids (FAs). There has been partial success to resolve this mixture of FAs using different GC temperature programs, or a combination of GC isothermal and temperature programs. To overcome the problem associated with overlapping isomers prior silver-ion separation was recommended. However, this procedure is time consuming and not practical for routine analysis. In addition, previous methods focused mainly on the trans and cis isomers of 18:1. The present method takes advantage of differences in the relative elution times between different types of FAs. The method involved analyzing each milk fat using the same highly polar 100-m capillary column and GC instrument, and conducting two separations using temperature programs that plateau at 175 and 150 °C. The relative shift among the geometric and positional isomers at these two temperature settings was enough to permit identification of most of the trans and cis 16:1, 18:1 and 20:1, the c/t-18:2 and the c/c/t-18:3 isomers found in milk fat. The identity of these FAs was confirmed by prior separation of the total fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) of milk fat using Ag⁺-SPE columns, and comparing the fractions to the total milk fat. The Ag⁺-SPE technique was modified to obtain pure saturated, trans- and cis-monounsaturated and diunsaturated FAMEs. By combining the results from these two separate GC analyses, knowing the elution order, it was possible to determine most of the geometric and positional isomers of 16:1, 18:1, 20:1, 18:2 and 18:3 without a prior silver-ion separation. Only few minor FAs could not be resolved, notable the conjugated linoleic acid isomers that still required the complimentary Ag⁺-HPLC separation. The two GC temperature programs have been successfully used to routinely analyze most FA isomers in total milk and beef fats in about 200 min without the use of prior silver-ion separations.