A novel magnet focusing plate for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization analysis of magnetic bead-bound analytes




Magnetic beads are often used for serum profiling of peptide and protein biomarkers. In these assays, the bead-bound analytes are eluted from the beads prior to mass spectrometric analysis. This study describes a novel matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) technique for direct application and focusing of magnetic beads to MALDI plates by means of dedicated micro-magnets as sample spots.


Custom-made MALDI plates with magnetic focusing spots were made using small nickel-coated neodymium micro-magnets integrated into a stainless steel plate in a 16 × 24 (384) pattern. For demonstrating the proof-of-concept, commercial C-18 magnetic beads were used for the extraction of a test compound (reserpine) from aqueous solution. Experiments were conducted to study focusing abilities, the required laser energies, the influence of a matrix compound, dispensing techniques, solvent choice and the amount of magnetic beads.


Dispensing the magnetic beads onto the micro-magnet sample spots resulted in immediate and strong binding to the magnetic surface. Light microscope images illustrated the homogeneous distribution of beads across the surfaces of the magnets, when the entire sample volume containing the beads was pipetted onto the surface. Subsequent MALDI analysis of the bead-bound analyte demonstrated excellent and reproducible ionization yields. The surface-assisted laser desorption/ionization (SALDI) properties of the strongly light-absorbing γ-Fe2O3-based beads resulted in similar ionization efficiencies to those obtained from experiments with an additional MALDI matrix compound.


This feasibility study successfully demonstrated the magnetic focusing abilities for magnetic bead-bound analytes on a novel MALDI plate containing small micro-magnets as sample spots. One of the key advantages of this integrated approach is that no elution steps from magnetic beads were required during analyses compared with conventional bead experiments. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.