Although matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry is one of the most widely used soft ionization methods for biomolecules, the lack of detailed understanding of ionization mechanisms restricts its application in the analysis of carbohydrates. Structural identification of carbohydrates achieved by MALDI mass spectrometry helps us to gain insights into biological functions and pathogenesis of disease. In this review, we highlight mechanistic details of MALDI, including both ionization and desorption. Strategies to improve the ion yield of carbohydrates are also reviewed. Furthermore, commonly used fragmentation methods to identify the structure are discussed.
2017 Yin-Hung Lai and Yi-Sheng Wang. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.