Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) on cellulosic surfaces is shown to be a suitable method for examining highly oxidized terpenoids, which are otherwise too difficult to determine by other techniques. By crystallization of a 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHB) matrix and the sample solution on cellulose-coated thin layer chromatography(TLC) plates, spectra with good signal/noise ratios are obtained and no significant interferences due to matrix ions or cluster ions were produced, at least not in the range of m/z values of interest (>300 Da). The validity of the method was tested on natural di- and triterpenoid resins used as paint varnishes by Old Masters. The samples were analyzed before and after artificial light ageing. Di- and triterpenoid compounds, being very sensitive towards photo-oxidation, were found as oxidized molecules even in the raw resins and in the unexposed varnish layers. Artificial ageing simulating window-filtered daylight resulted in a stronger oxidation of the original terpenoids and the incorporation of up to six oxygen atoms per molecule could be demonstrated. Terpenoid dimers and their oxidation products were also detected.
J. Mass Spectrom.

Scalarone, D., Duursma, M. C., Boon, J. J., & Chiantore, O. (2005). MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry on cellulosic surfaces of fresh and photo-aged di- and triterpenoid varnish resins. J. Mass Spectrom., 40, 1527–1535. doi:10.1002/jms.893