Per-O-methylation reaction for structural analysis of carbohydrates by mass spectrometry

Anal Chim Acta. 2006 Aug 25;576(2):147-55. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2006.06.009. Epub 2006 Jun 15.


Per-O-methylation of carbohydrates is an important sample preparation step in structural analysis of complex carbohydrates, which has generated considerable interest as shown by thousands of citations in the last 10 years. This article provides a critical overview of the per-O-methylation methods applied for structural analysis of carbohydrates by mass spectrometry. The understanding of the O-methylation mechanism can help the researchers to apply the adequate O-methylation method and can generate new ideas in the effort of improving this reaction. The per-O-methylation of carbohydrates is relied upon stepwise reactions. The parameters that affect the reaction are discussed for the most important methods and are critically commented for each reaction step. The limits of each method are emphasized. The improvements of the per-O-methylation reaction are described in detail with their advantages and disadvantages and some illustrative examples are given. The methods that give complete O-methylation in non-hazardous conditions with high yields within minutes at room temperature with a very low amount of side-products are especially highlighted.