Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation (MALDI) mass spectrometry (MS): Basics and clinical applications

Muhammad Zubair Israr, Dennis Bernieh, Andrea Salzano, Shabana Cassambai, Yoshiyuki Yazaki, Toru Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation (MALDI) mass spectrometry (MS) has been used for more than 30 years. Compared with other analytical techniques, it offers ease of use, high throughput, robustness, cost-effectiveness, rapid analysis and sensitivity. As advantages, current clinical techniques (e.g. immunoassays) are unable to directly measure the biomarker; rather, they measure secondary signals. MALDI-MS has been extensively researched for clinical applications, and it is set for a breakthrough as a routine tool for clinical diagnostics. This review reports on the principles of MALDI-MS and discusses current clinical applications and the future clinical prospects for MALDI-MS. Furthermore, the review assesses the limitations currently experienced in clinical assays, the advantages and the impact of MALDI-MS to transform clinical laboratories. MALDI-MS is widely used in clinical microbiology for the screening of microbial isolates; however, there is scope to apply MALDI-MS in the diagnosis, prognosis, therapeutic drug monitoring and biopsy imaging in many diseases. There is considerable potential for MALDI-MS in clinic as a tool for screening, profiling and imaging because of its high sensitivity and specificity over alternative techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-896
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020


  • biomarker
  • clinical
  • disease
  • mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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