Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry

Oligosaccharide analysis by graphitized carbon liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.

PMID 19247642


Structural analysis of complex mixtures of oligosaccharides using tandem mass spectrometry is regularly complicated by the presence of a multitude of structural isomers. Detailed structural analysis is, therefore, often achieved by combining oligosaccharide separation by HPLC with online electrospray ionization and mass spectrometric detection. A very popular and promising method for analysis of oligosaccharides, which is covered by this review, is graphitized carbon HPLC-ESI-MS. The oligosaccharides may be applied in native or reduced form, after labeling with a fluorescent tag, or in the permethylated form. Elution can be accomplished by aqueous organic solvent mixtures containing low concentrations of acids or volatile buffers; this enables online ESI-MS analysis in positive-ion or negative-ion mode. Importantly, graphitized carbon HPLC is often able to resolve many glycan isomers, which may then be analyzed individually by tandem mass spectrometry for structure elucidation. While graphitized carbon HPLC-MS for glycan analysis is still only applied by a limited number of groups, more users are expected to apply this method when databases which support structural assignment become available.