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Monosaccharides and Sugar Alcohol Analysis

Carbohydrate Analysis

  1. Robert J. Sturgeon

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0308

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Sturgeon, R. J. 2006. Monosaccharides and Sugar Alcohol Analysis. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Heriot-Watt University, Department of Biological Sciences, Edinburgh, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Carbohydrates, including monosaccharides and sugar alcohols, are widely distributed in nature, being found in plants, animals and micro-organisms. They occur free, or in glycosidic linkage as polysaccharides or glycoconjugates (glycoproteins and glycolipids). It is important that suitable and sensitive methods are available for the analysis of these sugars, as in many cases only very small (microgram) amounts of material may be available. Polysaccharides and glycoconjugates must first be depolymerized to produce the monosaccharides quantitatively. The total carbohydrate released in these reactions may be determined by spectrophotometric or enzymic procedures.

Numerous separation and detection methods are available to measure the individual sugar components. Paper and thin-layer chromatography were two of the earliest techniques available, giving mainly qualitative values for individual sugar components. Major advances were made first in gas–liquid chromatography (GLC) and then with various types of liquid chromatography (LC) in the separation of individual sugars.

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and capillary electrophoresis (CE) are now two of the most commonly used techniques in sugar chromatography. Highly sophisticated detection systems, such as mass spectrometry (MS) for gas–liquid chromatographic separations, and spectrophotometric, fluorometric and electrochemical detection systems for LC of carbohydrates with suitable chromophores or fluorophores have been developed.

Carbohydrates have been derivatized for use either in precolumn or postcolumn chromatography, resulting in the detection limit in the most sensitive systems approaching yoctomole levels for individual sugars.