Biomedical application of MALDI mass spectrometry for small-molecule analysis
Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry (MS) is an emerging analytical tool for the analysis of molecules with molar masses below 1,000 Da; that is, small molecules. This technique offers rapid analysis, high sensitivity, low sample consumption, a relative high tolerance towards salts and buffers, and the possibility to store sample on the target plate. The successful application of the technique is, however, hampered by low molecular weight (LMW) matrix-derived interference signals and by poor reproducibility of signal intensities during quantitative analyses. In this review, we focus on the biomedical application of MALDI-MS for the analysis of small molecules and discuss its favorable properties and its challenges as well as strategies to improve the performance of the technique. Furthermore, practical aspects and applications are presented.