Direct Analysis of Liquid Samples by Desorption Electrospray Ionization-Mass Spectrometry (DESI-MS)

Zhixin Miao, Hao Chen

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138 Scopus citations


Desorption electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) was evaluated for the direct analysis of liquid samples. Several interesting results were found. First, in contrast to the previous DESI analysis of dried solid samples that was limited to proteins with MW ≤ 25 kDa (Anal. Chem. 2007, 79, 3514), bovine serum albumin (BSA, 66 kDa) was successfully ionized from solutions by DESI with observation of corresponding multiply charged ions. Second, direct DESI analysis of protein tryptic digest solutions without chromatographic separation, sample clean-up, and the sample drying step was demonstrated, providing reasonably good sequence coverage of 52% to 97%. Third, direct analysis of biofluids such as an undiluted urine sample without sample pretreatment is possible, emphasizing the high tolerance of DESI with salt. These results suggest that a charged droplet pick-up mechanism is responsible for desorption and ionization of liquid samples by DESI. Also, unlike in electrospray ionization (ESI), inhibition of electrochemical reduction in the negative ion mode was observed for liquid sample DESI. In addition, reactive DESI can be performed with ion/ion reactions of Zn(II) complexes for the selective binding of phosphoserine in the presence of serine. DESI experiment can also be carried out directly to liquid samples flowing out of a pumped syringe needle tip, allowing rapid analysis. Furthermore, on-line coupling of electrochemical cell with DESI-MS was demonstrated, in which perylene radical cations generated in the cell were successfully transferred to the gas-phase for MS detection by DESI. This study extended the scope of DESI-MS applications, which could have potentials in bioanalytical and forensic analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


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