Systematic comparison of reverse phase and hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography platforms for the analysis of N-linked glycans

Anal Chem. 2012 Oct 2;84(19):8198-206. doi: 10.1021/ac3012494. Epub 2012 Sep 20.


Due to the hydrophilic nature of glycans, reverse phase chromatography has not been widely used as a glycomic separation technique coupled to mass spectrometry. Other approaches such as hydrophilic interaction chromatography and porous graphitized carbon chromatography are often employed, though these strategies frequently suffer from decreased chromatographic resolution, long equilibration times, indefinite retention, and column bleed. Herein, it is shown that, through an efficient hydrazone formation derivatization of N-linked glycans (~4 h of additional sample preparation time which is carried out in parallel), numerous experimental and practical advantages are gained when analyzing the glycans by online reverse phase chromatography. These benefits include an increased number of glycans detected, increased peak capacity of the separation, and the ability to analyze glycans on the identical liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry platform commonly used for proteomic analyses. The data presented show that separation of derivatized N-linked glycans by reverse phase chromatography significantly out-performs traditional separation of native or derivatized glycans by hydrophilic interaction chromatography. Furthermore, the movement to a more ubiquitous separation technique will afford numerous research groups the opportunity to analyze both proteomic and glycomic samples on the same platform with minimal time and physical change between experiments, increasing the efficiency of "multiomic" biological approaches.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Reverse-Phase
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Polysaccharides / analysis*


  • Polysaccharides