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High-pH anion-exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD) is an established technique for selective separation and analysis of underivatized carbohydrates. The miniaturization of chromatographic techniques by means of capillary columns, and on-line coupling to mass spectrometry are critical to the further development of glycan analysis methods that are compatible with the current requirements in clinical settings.
A system has been developed based on the Dionex BioLC equipped with a microbore gradient pump with PEEK flow splitter, a FAMOS micro autosampler, a modified electrochemical cell for on-line capillary PAD, and a capillary column (380 μm i.d.) packed with a new type of anion-exchange resin. This system operates with sensitivity in the low femtomol range. In addition, an on-line capillary desalter has been developed to allow direct coupling to the Bruker Esquire 3000 ion-trap mass spectrometer with electrospray ionization interface (ESI-IT-MS). Both systems have been evaluated using oligosaccharide standards as well as urine samples exhibiting various lysosomal oligosaccharide storage diseases. Initial data indicate that the robust and selective anion-exchange system, in combination with ESI-IT-MS for structure confirmation and analysis, provides a powerful platform that complements existing nano/capillary LC-MS methods for analytical determination of oligosaccharides in biological matrices.