Matrix-dependent signal suppression or enhancement represents a major drawback in quantitative analysis with liquid chromatography coupled to atmospheric pressure ionization mass spectrometry (LC-API-MS). Because matrix effects (ME) might exert a detrimental impact on important method parameters (limit of detection, limit of quantification, linearity, accuracy, and precision), they have to be tested and evaluated during validation procedure. This review gives a detailed description on when these phenomena might be expected, and how they can be evaluated. The major sources of ME are discussed and illustrated with examples from bioanalytical, pharmaceutical, environmental, and food analysis. Because there is no universal solution for ME, the main strategies to overcome these phenomena are described in detail. Special emphasis is devoted to the sample-preparation procedures as well as to the recent improvements on chromatographic and mass spectrometric conditions. An overview of the main calibration techniques to compensate for ME is also presented. All these solutions can be used alone or in combination to retrieve the performance of the LC-MS for a particular matrix-analyte combination.
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