Lipids are heterogeneous biological molecules with many important roles. In human body, lipids can be energy substrates, steroid hormones, inflammatory lipid mediators, transporters, and feature as structural cell and organelle membrane elements. At the cell membrane, lipids influence the distribution of surface proteins and, in part, protein signaling and, consequently, the activation of transcriptional factors. One of the best explored relationships in chemistry and science is the structure/activity one. Therefore, if the composition of a mixture is discovered and the structure of its components is known, a task of proposing relationship among all components and their activity would be closer to understanding. There are many powerful and advantageous analytical and bioanalytical tools available for the study of lipids, but all show at least some limitations. Knowing the advantages/disadvantages of each technique is essential for choosing the most appropriate one for the analysis as to answer a scientific question about lipid composition and role within a biological model. Often, inexperience and little familiarity with the cited analytical resources may limit the validity of the obtained results. Our chapter aims to present and discuss different tools available for the study of lipids and their main applications in biological assays.
Part of the book: Advances in Lipid Metabolism