Independent assessment of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) sample preparation quality: A novel statistical approach for quality scoring

Pieter C. Kooijman*, Sander J. Kok*, Jos J. A. M. Weusten, Maarten Honing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Web of Science)


Preparation of samples according to an optimized method is crucial for accurate determination of polymer sample characteristics by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization (MALDI) analysis. Sample preparation conditions such as matrix choice, cationization agent, deposition technique or even the deposition volume should be chosen to suit the sample of interest. Many sample preparation protocols have been developed and employed, yet finding the optimal sample preparation protocol remains a challenge. Because an objective comparison between the results of diverse protocols is not possible, "gut-feeling" or "good enough" is often decisive in the search for an optimum. This implies that sub-optimal protocols are used, leading to a loss of mass spectral informationquality. To address this problem a novel analytical strategy based on MALDI imaging and statistical data processing was developed in which eight parameters were formulated to objectively quantify the quality of sample deposition and optimal MALDI matrix composition and finally sum up to an overall quality score of the sample deposition. These parameters can be established in a fully automated way using commercially available mass spectrometry imaging instruments without any hardware adjustments. With the newly developed analytical strategy the highest quality MALDI spots were selected, resulting in more reproducible and more valuable spectra for PEG in a variety of matrices. Moreover, our method enables an objective comparison of sample preparation protocols for any analyte and opens up new fields of investigation by presenting MALDI performance data in a clear and concise way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2016


  • Mass spectrometry
  • Synthetic polymers
  • Sample preparation
  • Quality assessment
  • Imaging

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