Significant sensitivity improvements by matrix optimization: a MALDI-TOF mass spectrometric study of lipids from hen egg yolk

Chem Phys Lipids. 2010 Jun;163(6):552-60. doi: 10.1016/j.chemphyslip.2010.04.005. Epub 2010 Apr 24.


Due to its sensitivity, the tolerance of impurities and the simplicity of performance, matrix-assisted laser desorption and ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) is increasingly used to analyze lipids from biological sources. Although its detailed role is not understood so far, the applied matrix has a pronounced effect on the achievable spectrum quality and particularly how sensitive the individual lipid classes are detectable. Different matrix compounds were recently established in the lipid field including 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHB), 9-aminoacridine (9-AA), para-nitroaniline (PNA), 2-mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT), and 2-(2-aminoethylamino)-5-nitropyridine (AAN). It is the aim of this paper to compare the properties of these matrices with the newly synthesized matrix, alpha-cyano-2,4-difluorocinnamic acid (Di-FCCA). An organic extract from hen egg yolk was used as a simple and easily available test system. It will be shown that Di-FCCA is the matrix of choice to detect lipids in the positive-ion mode due to an achievable sensitivity gain of more than one order of magnitude compared to alternative matrices. In contrast, Di-FCCA is not suitable for negative-ion detection of phospholipids. Here, 9-AA is unequivocally the matrix of choice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aminacrine / analysis
  • Aniline Compounds / analysis
  • Animals
  • Benzothiazoles / analysis
  • Chickens
  • Cinnamates / chemistry
  • Egg Yolk / chemistry*
  • Gentisates / analysis
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Pyridines / analysis
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*


  • 2-(2-aminoethylamino)-5-nitropyridine
  • Aniline Compounds
  • Benzothiazoles
  • Cinnamates
  • Gentisates
  • Lipids
  • Pyridines
  • cinnamic acid
  • 4-nitroaniline
  • captax
  • Aminacrine
  • 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid