Sequential Alkaline Saponification/Acid Hydrolysis/ Esterification: A One-Tube Method With Enhanced Recovery of Both Cyclopropane and Hydroxylated Fatty Acids

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Gas chromatographic acquisition of representative 'Total' cellular fatty acid profiles from bacteria or bacteria-containing samples (e.g., environmental or clinical materials) tends to be dependent on the method used to released the fatty acids and convert them to derivatives suitable for analysis. Alkaline saponification or interesterification methods, while preserving acid-sensitive components such as cyclopropane fatty acids, are often insufficient to release amide-linked components, such as hydroxylated fatty acids. Acid-catalyzed hydrolyses or interesterifications, on the other hand, while more efficiently releasing the predominantly amide-linked hydroxylated components, have been shown to cause severe and unpredictable degradation of cyclopropane fatty acids. We report studies of a single-tube method involving sequential alkaline/acid release of fatty acids in which fatty acids released by the alkaline step are partitioned into an organic epiphase during the aqueous acid hydrolysis step. After hydrolysis, the epiphase and the released fatty acids are extracted into an hypophasic solvend and esterified at moderate temperature under relatively low acid concentrations. Under these conditions, cyclopropane as well as hydroxylated fatty acids are recovered in high yield.