Screening for anthocyanins using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry with precursor-ion analysis, product-ion analysis, common-neutral-loss analysis, and selected reaction monitoring

J Chromatogr A. 2005 Oct 14;1091(1-2):72-82. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2005.07.036.


A systematic method for anthocyanin identification using tandems mass spectrometry (MS/MS) coupled to high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with photo-diode array detection (PDA) was developed. Scan for the precursor ions of commonly found anthocyanidins (cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, petunidin, and peonidin) using LC/MS/MS on a triple quadrupole instrument allows for the specific determination of each category of anthocyanins. Further characterization of each anthocyanin was performed using MS/MS product-ion analysis, common-neutral-loss analysis, and selected reaction monitoring (SRM). The method was demonstrated for analysis of anthocyanins in black raspberries, red raspberries, highbush blueberries, and grapes (Vitis vinifera). Previous reported anthocyanins in black raspberries and red raspberries are confirmed and characterized. Common-neutral-loss analysis allows for the distinction of anthocyanin glucosides or galactoside and arabinosides in highbush blueberries. Separation and identification of anthocyanin glucosides and galactosides were achieved by LC/MS/MS using SRM. Anthocyanin isomers such as cyanidin sophoroside and 3,5-diglucoside were differentiated by their fragmentation pattern during product-ion analysis. Fifteen anthocyanins (all possible combinations of five anthocyanidins and three sugars) were characterized in highbush blueberries. Pelargonidin 3-glucoside and pelargonidin 3,5-diglucoside were detected and characterized for the first time in grapes. The present approach allows mass spectrometry to be used as a highly selective detector for rapid identification and characterization of anthocyanins and can be used as a sensitive procedure for screening anthocyanins in fruits and vegetables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / analysis*
  • Anthocyanins / chemistry
  • Blueberry Plants / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Ions / analysis
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / instrumentation
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Vitis / chemistry


  • Anthocyanins
  • Ions